January 23, 2024 | Flash Brief

Several U.S. Servicemen Injured After Ballistic Missile Attack in Iraq

January 23, 2024 | Flash Brief

Several U.S. Servicemen Injured After Ballistic Missile Attack in Iraq

Latest Developments

A January 20 attack by Iran-backed Iraqi Shiite militias on an airbase housing U.S. and Iraqi troops injured at least two U.S. troops. The assault also seriously wounded one Iraqi service member. According to U.S. Central Command, militants launched multiple ballistic missiles and rockets at Ain Al-Asad airbase in Anbar province, Iraq, which houses U.S. forces supporting Iraqi efforts to defeat ISIS. According to reports, U.S. air defenses intercepted all but two of the approximately 17 rockets and short-range ballistic missiles fired at the base. The Islamic Resistance in Iraq claimed responsibility for the attack.

Expert Analysis

“This attack against our troops in Iraq represents a brazen escalation by Tehran and its terror proxies. Iran understands that such attacks will eventually invite American responses, which Iran will once again use to generate political pressure in Baghdad to push for an American military withdrawal from Iraq. Such a withdrawal would increase Iran’s power in Baghdad, further Tehran’s campaign to make Iraq a puppet state, and increase the likelihood of an ISIS resurgence.” Bradley Bowman, Senior Director of FDD’s Center on Military and Political Power

“Shiite militias in Iraq have used ballistic missiles for the second time since October 7, showing a willingness to escalate against the United States directly on Iran’s behalf using Iranian weapons. These strikes are not meant to signal. They are meant to kill.” — Behnam Ben Taleblu, FDD Senior Fellow

U.S. Attacked More Than 150 Times

The Pentagon announced that U.S. forces in Iraq and Syria have been attacked at least 151 times since mid-October, but the January 20 attack was on a larger scale than what the United States has observed since these attacks began. The United States has responded on only a handful of occasions to the previous attacks, which mostly involved rockets and one-way attack drones. However, Principal Deputy National Security Advisor Jon Finer signaled that a future response seeks “to establish deterrence in these situations, and to hold these groups accountable.”

The Islamic Resistance in Iraq claimed on November 6 that it had targeted U.S. forces in Iraq and Syria with the al-Aqsa-1 medium-range ballistic missile for the first time. On November 21, a U.S. AC-130 Ghostrider gunship engaged and destroyed multiple Iranian backed militants responsible for launching a missile earlier the same day, which injured several U.S. personnel.

Iran-backed militias attack U.S. forces in western Iraq,” by Joe Truzman and Bill Roggio

Profiles of 15 Iranian-Backed Militias in the Middle East,” by Bill Roggio and Joe Truzman

U.S. Strikes Iraqi Militia After Three Servicemembers Injured,” FDD Flash Brief


Iran Iran Global Threat Network Iran Missiles Iran-backed Terrorism Islamic State Jihadism Military and Political Power U.S. Defense Policy and Strategy