Seventh U.S. Strike Amid Over 100 Iran-backed Attacks in Iraq and Syria

Following two Iran-backed attacks that critically injured a U.S. service member and wounded two other U.S. personnel, U.S. airstrikes on December 25 hit three Iran-linked facilities in Iraq. There have now been at least 105 attacks on U.S. personnel in Iraq and Syria and seven U.S. airstrikes since October 7, exceeding the nearly 90 attacks against U.S. personnel and five U.S. responses during the previous two-and-half years of the Biden administration.

While the rate of Iran-backed attacks against U.S. personnel has dropped in the last two weeks, it is not because the Iranian regime has been deterred by U.S. strikes. Instead, Iranian aggres-sion has shifted primarily to the Red Sea, where the Houthis have increased attacks on ships, while continuing in Iraq and Syria. To deter Iran, it will not be enough for the United States to keep doing what it has been: responding faster, hitting more targets, and being more willing to kill Iran-linked proxy fighters while avoiding targeting Iranian regime fighters and proclaiming that it is not interested in escalation. To stop Iranian attacks, the United States will need to use force di-rectly against Iranian regime targets—as Israel has done by, for example, killing Iranian Brig. Gen. Seyed Razi Mousavi on December 25 in Syria—as well as surge air defense assets to the Middle East that can better protect U.S. personnel and regional partners.