April 24, 2024 | Flash Brief

Iran-Backed Iraqi Militias Resume Attacks on U.S. Forces

April 24, 2024 | Flash Brief

Iran-Backed Iraqi Militias Resume Attacks on U.S. Forces

Latest Developments

U.S. forces at Al-Asad Air Base in Iraq shot down approximately two drones on April 22, according to U.S. officials. This was the second attack in 24 hours against U.S. troops, coming after Iran-aligned militants targeted U.S. forces in Rumalyn, Syria, with multiple rockets.

The Pentagon confirmed “two unsuccessful attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq and Syria,” which were the first against U.S. troops there since February 4. The Pentagon stated that the launcher used in the first incident was destroyed by a coalition aircraft “in self-defense after a failed rocket attack.” A group reportedly affiliated with the Iran-backed militia Kata’ib Hezbollah (KH) claimed that attacks on U.S. forces had resumed. However, this statement was quickly denied by KH’s official Telegram page, stating that the allegation of resumed attacks was “fabricated news.”

Expert Analysis

“Iran-backed terrorists repeatedly attacked U.S. forces in Iraq and Syria beginning on October 17. For weeks, the Biden administration failed to respond with strength, essentially inviting those attacks to continue. That’s exactly what happened, and three American servicemembers ultimately lost their lives. The White House should learn from that experience and not wait weeks this time before responding with decisive force. We need to build a pattern of responses that encourages those contemplating attacks on our forces to think twice.” Bradley Bowman, Senior Director of FDD’s Center on Military and Political Power

“Tehran and its proxies seek to expel the United States through force and terror. A withdrawal of American troops in Iraq and Syria, who are supporting the Defeat-ISIS campaign, could lead to the reemergence of the extremist caliphate and would hand Tehran a strategic victory. Both enemies seek not only the extinction of the State of Israel but the deaths of Americans as well. Washington must seek a policy of peace through strength and not back down against those who attack our service members.” Mike Daum, FDD Research Analyst

Deterring Attacks on U.S. Forces

Between October 17, 2023, and February 4, 2024, Iranian proxies attacked U.S. forces 165 times in Iraq, Syria, and Jordan. The United States responded only with approximately nine limited airstrikes before the fatal Tower 22 attack in Jordan on January 28, which killed three American servicemembers. After that attack, the United States responded by striking 85 targets in Iraq and Syria. Less than a week later, a U.S. drone strike in Baghdad killed a KH commander who was responsible for attacks on U.S. forces. After that U.S. military action, there were no more attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq, Syria, or Jordan for at least 75 days.

Iran’s Proxies Threatened to Resume Attacks

Despite the pause in attacks on U.S. forces, Iranian proxies in Iraq threatened to resume attacks if the Iraqi government did not secure an agreement for U.S. troops to withdraw from the country. U.S. forces are in Iraq and Syria to help ensure the ISIS caliphate remains defeated. The Iraqi prime minister and President Joe Biden met in Washington last week, issuing a joint statement on April 15 that did not mention any U.S. withdrawal.

The consequences of US weakness in Iraq and Syria,” by Bradley Bowman and Cameron McMillan

American Forces Under Attack By Iran and its Proxies,” by Mike Daum and Bradley Bowman

Pentagon: Deadly Attack on U.S. Soldiers Facilitated by Iran,” FDD Flash Brief

What We Can Learn From Iran’s Attack on Israel,” by Bradley Bowman, Ryan Brobst, and Mike Daum


Iran Iran Global Threat Network Iran-backed Terrorism Jihadism Military and Political Power Syria