Secretary of State Antony Blinken had sobering news for the American public on NBC News’ “Meet the Press” on Sunday morning.
Blinken was asked about the potential of military escalation with Iran, which comes in the context of multiple attacks involving U.S. forces in recent days.
“How concerned are you about Iran trying to escalate this war?” Kristin Welker asked.
“We are concerned, in fact, we expect that there’s a likelihood of escalation,” Blinken replied. “Escalation by Iranian proxies directed against our forces, directed against our personnel. We are taking steps to make sure that we can effectively defend our people and respond decisively if we need to.”
The United States Department of Defense on Saturday put additional troops on “prepare-to-deploy” status amid escalating tensions in the Middle East.
The Pentagon had earlier put military forces on “high alert” after the surprise attack carried out by Hamas against Israel on October 7.
On Tuesday, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin “placed approximately 2,000 personnel and a range of units on a heightened state of readiness through a prepare-to-deploy order,” Pentagon spokeswoman Sabrina Singh said.
Two U.S. Navy carrier groups were dispatched to the region in an effort to deter Iran and offer support to regional allies.
There have been a number of attacks involving U.S. military forces and its allies this week.
As reported by the military analysis site Task and Purpose, there were two drone attacks on the Al-Asad Air Base in Western Iraq on Wednesday that left U.S. troops ‘slightly injured.’ The drones were damaged or destroyed, according to military reports.
The U.S. military also destroyed a third drone in an attack in Northern Iraq, according to CENTCOM. No injuries from that attack were reported.
As of October 21, 2023, the Iranian-aligned Islamic Resistance in Iraq, believed to be an umbrella group, has claimed the following attacks:
- October 17, 2023: drone attack on Al-Asad Air Base in Western Iraq.
- October 17, 2023: drone attack on Harir base in Iraqi Kurdistan. This attack was initially claimed by Al-Warithuun (Tashkil al-Waritheen, or the Inheritors) before a superseding claim was issued by al-Muqawama al-Islamiyah fil Iraq and the Warithuun claim was removed in deference.
- October 19, 2023: drone attack on Al-Tanf garrison in Syria.
- October 19, 2023: rocket attack on U.S. base at Conoco gas field in Syria.
- October 19, 2023: rocket attack on Al-Asad Air Base in Western Iraq.
- October 20, 2023: drone attack on Harir base in Iraqi Kurdistan.
- October 21, 2023: drone attack on Al-Asad Air Base in Western Iraq.
On Thursday, the USS Carney (DDG-64), a guided-missile destroyer, “shot down” three missiles and a number of drones fired from Houthi-controlled territory in Yemen.
International observers are watching the actions of Iran, its terrorist proxy Hezbollah, and affiliated militant groups in the region closely for signs of direct intervention in the War on Israel.