Dozens of American troops sustained injuries following drone attacks on bases in Iraq and Syria on Oct. 17 and 18, a Pentagon spokesperson told reporters Monday.
The total number of injuries is now 46, Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said, more than double the 21 the Pentagon initially reported on Oct. 25.
While the injuries are considered minor and the troops returned to duty soon after, according to Ryder, reports of traumatic brain injury tend to trickle in after a blast, as symptoms can sometimes take days or weeks to surface.
Though the Oct. 17 and 18 attacks are still the only incidents resulting in U.S. casualties, Ryder said the number of total attacks since Oct. 17 has risen to 38, with eight of those coming over the weekend.
Defense Department officials have warned of increasing attacks on troops in the Middle East amid the Israel-Hamas war, though officials have stopped short of saying the increase in attacks is directly related to U.S. support of Israel.
“I think that we are all sensitive to the fact that there are tensions in the region ... you are seeing, and we probably will continue to see, groups that may try to exploit the situation to benefit their own interests, to include Iranian proxy groups,” Ryder said during a briefing Nov. 2.
The Pentagon ordered two strikes on Iran-backed militia facilities in Syria on Oct. 26 in retaliation for the attacks.
In response to overall security concerns in the Middle East, including force protection of U.S. troops, the U.S. has positioned two carrier strike groups in the eastern Mediterranean, along with an amphibious ready group with an embarked Marine Expeditionary Unit, several Air Force fighter squadrons and multiple Army air defense units.
On Oct. 31, the Pentagon announced 300 U.S.-based support troops would deploy to an undisclosed location.
“These additional troops will provide capabilities and explosive ordnance disposal, communications and other support enablers for forces already in the region,” Ryder said.
Meghann Myers is the Pentagon bureau chief at Military Times. She covers operations, policy, personnel, leadership and other issues affecting service members.