US troops attacked in Iraq and Syria, risking potential spillover of Israel-Palestine conflicttext_fields
Baghdad: Western officials are sounding alarms over the increasing risk of regional spillover as the Israel-Hamas conflict intensifies, with reported attacks on the Ain al-Asad airbase in western Iraq, which hosts US and international forces.
Reports suggest a barrage of drones and missiles, with accounts of multiple blasts heard inside the base, while the extent of casualties or damages remains unclear.
This follows a series of attacks on American bases in Iraq and Syria, heightening concerns for the safety of US forces in the region. The Ain al-Asad assault was preceded by rocket strikes on another military base near Baghdad’s international airport, according to a report published in The Guardian.
Meanwhile, the USS Carney intercepted land attack cruise missiles and drones launched by Houthi forces in Yemen, potentially aimed at Israel. The US has responded by deploying additional naval power, including two aircraft carriers and around 2,000 Marines, underlining the heightened alert status.
President Joe Biden's move to reinforce naval presence is seen as a response to rising tensions in the region. However, the Pentagon asserts no direct link between the increased attacks on US and Israeli forces and the Israel-Hamas conflict.
The Gaza Strip continues to bear the brunt of Israeli bombardment, resulting in significant civilian casualties, with over 3,785 Palestinians killed and 12,493 wounded.
European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen acknowledged the real risk of regional spillover, emphasizing the need for continued dialogue between Israel and its neighbours. She expressed concern about the anger sweeping Arab streets across the region and accused Iran, Hamas’s patron, of fuelling chaos.
Tensions in Iraq were already elevated due to the conflict in Gaza. Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Iraq's top Shi’ite Muslim cleric, condemned Israel's actions, urging the world to stand against the "terrible brutality" in Gaza.
Iranian-backed militias, notably Kataib Hezbollah, called for the departure of US forces, accusing them of supporting Israel's actions.