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October 19, 2023

Kyle Dillon, Lucrezia Taddei, Giorgia Cito AFRICOM/CENTCOM Team

Brantley Williams, Editor; Evan Beachler, Senior Editor

Map of Attacked US Bases In Iraq[1]

Event: On October 18, three drones targeted US bases in Iraq, resulting in minor injuries to coalition forces. The first attack took place at the al-Asad air base involving two drones, one of which coalition forces intercepted.[2] The second drone attack occurred at the al-Harir air base in Erbil. The Iranian-backed Shiite militia, Tashkil al-Waritheen, claimed both attacks. The Islamic Resistance issued a statement signaling more operations would occur against what they perceived as an American occupation.[3] This event unfolded amid increasing regional tensions, sparked by an explosion at a Gaza hospital. US potential intervention is causing armed Iraqi groups backed by Iran to target US interests for supporting Israel in the Israel-Hamas conflict.[4] On October 19, a US Navy warship operating in the Red Sea intercepted several missiles and drones suspected to be launched by Iran-backed Houthi rebels off the Yemeni coast. The Pentagon press secretary reported that they are investigating the targets and suspect the missiles were aimed at Israel. The Houthi rebels have previously threatened Israel and support the Palestinian movement toward self-determination.[5]

Significance: The drone attacks on US bases in Iraq, following the hospital explosion in Gaza, very likely demonstrate an escalation in regional tension. US air bases in the region were likely targets of these Iranian-aligned groups to delay the US response time to the evolving situation. Iran is almost certainly diversifying its military resources and assets to other countries to assist proxy groups in preparation for US intervention. Iran is almost certainly continuing to aid proxies in regional countries to direct targeted campaigns away from the Iranian homeland. Iran’s actions very likely convey its intention to safeguard its allies, project power, and assert regional influence. This mobilization almost certainly coincides with the instability in Gaza and the region's increasing fragmentation. These attacks in Iraq very likely demonstrate Iran’s regional influence and desire to expand its power. Iran will likely aim to continue avoiding a direct conflict with Israel and the US by using these proxies. US troops in Syria and Iraq will almost certainly remain cognizant of this situation and prepare for other potential attacks. The US will almost certainly look to strengthen its strategic partnerships and cooperation with Israel and Saudi Arabia to prevent Iranian-backed aggression. The US will likely strengthen ties with Kurdish forces and encourage US regional proxies to monitor the escalating situation. Iran will almost certainly strengthen its relationship with Syria, a critical partner, in facilitating arms and support to Iranian proxies. This support will very likely strengthen these groups' operational capabilities, likely ensuring a sustained flow of weaponry and financial resources. There is a roughly even chance that these Iranian-backed proxies will continue to use drones instead of conventional forces; this likely poses less of a risk to manpower resources.

Given its presence in Israel, the UK will almost certainly continue to monitor the escalating situation. As the recent events in Israel resulted in the deaths of British citizens, the UK is likely to respond more aggressively to any further escalation. The UK, US, and Israel will likely coordinate effective responses against Iranian-backed proxies and Iran. The ties between these three countries will almost certainly encourage the Islamic Resistance to conduct attacks in the Middle East against UK and US interests. US naval forces in the region will almost certainly have to remain cautious for an increase in missile attacks originating from Iranian-backed forces in Yemen and other regional countries. Iran is likely testing its linkages to these regional proxies to see how it can assemble its allies in the future. These attacks by Iranian-backed proxies in multiple countries will almost certainly complicate US efforts to mitigate this violence without violating national sovereignty. Israel will likely call on the US naval forces to continue intercepting missiles and drones heading toward Israel. This decision will almost certainly force the US to choose a side in this greater conflict, isolating Palestinians and further creating divisions. There is a roughly even chance that other Western countries will follow the US lead, encouraging Palestinian diasporas to protest in these countries and possibly resort to violence. This action will likely fuel domestic divisions between the Israeli and Palestinian communities in these countries.


  • The Counterterrorism Group (CTG) recommends that military forces and diplomatic missions of the US and Western countries who stand for Israel raise their security level to high alert.

  • CTG recommends that Western regional embassies and consulates increase security measures to protect its citizens. CTG recommends providing ambassadors with extra security, considering the escalating situation.

  • CTG recommends that Western governments create withdrawal plans in the region for citizens and diplomatic personnel in case of further escalation.

  • CTG recommends that the public take preventive measures when traveling or residing in Iraq or other areas where tensions might be high. US citizens should exercise caution in the Middle East, including Iraq, Iran, Syria, Lebanon, and Yemen.

  • CTG recommends that the public stay informed about any developing security situations and follow the direction of local authorities. CTG recommends that US citizens locate the closest US embassy or consulate and take proactive measures if attacks continue.

  • CTG recommends that with increasing attacks, regional healthcare agencies take proactive measures to avoid more civilian casualties.

  • CTG recommends that international humanitarian aid agencies be aware of the regional situation and prepare for potential threats to large population centers.

  • CTG recommends that the UN and other international governmental bodies condemn the violence and take the lead in mitigating regional tensions.

  • CTG recommends that the US Navy maintain high readiness in the Red Sea region by organizing training programs with regional partners in responding to drone threats.

  • CTG recommends that the US and its allies should intensify monitoring and intelligence-sharing efforts to track Iran’s interactions with regional proxies.

  • CTG recommends that negotiations between combatants should be encouraged to avoid future conflicts.

  • If there is any additional and or critical information, please contact us at The Counterterrorism Group (CTG) by Telephone at 202-643-2848 or email

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[1] Lucrezia Taddei via Google Maps

[2] Troops hurt after three drones attack US bases in Iraq as tensions flare after Gaza hospital blast, AP, October 2023,


[4] Drones target US troops in Iraq, causing minor injuries, Reuters, October 2023,

[5] US Navy warship in Red Sea intercepts three missiles, several drones heading north out of Yemen, AP, October 2023,


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