Hours after news outlets first reported Thursday on two separate drone strikes on bases housing U.S. troops in Syria, the Defense Department confirmed that the destroyer Carney shot down multiple missiles fired by Houthi insurgents in the Red Sea the same day.
The ship intercepted three cruise missiles and several drones, Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder, a Pentagon spokesman, told reporters during a briefing.
“We cannot say for certain what these missiles were targeting, but they were launched from Yemen, along the Red Sea, potentially towards targets in Israel,” he said. “This attack may be ongoing, so if we have more information to share, we will.”
Despite the increase in attacks following the strong messaging by the U.S. in support of Israel as it goes to war with Hamas, Ryder said the Pentagon is not considering the events related.
“Again, it’s important to separate these attacks from the current situation,” he said. “We’re going to continue to assess attribution on these ... but we’re also not going to overreact. We’re going to continue to do what we need to do and ensure regional stability, but at the same time supporting Israel.”
U.S. forces downed several more drones earlier this week, starting with three drones threatening forces in Iraq on Tuesday. One drone was destroyed and another damaged near al-Asad airbase in an attack resulting in minor injuries to coalition forces, Ryder said, and another unmanned device was downed at Bashur air base with no injuries.
“We are certainly taking appropriate force protection measures to ensure the safety of our troops,” Ryder said. “Again, I’m not going to get into specifics. Clearly, this is an uptick in terms of the types of drone activity we’ve seen in Iraq, in Syria.”
On Wednesday, troops destroyed one drone at al-Tanf garrison in Syria, while another detonated, causing minor injuries.
And that same morning, in Iraq, personnel at al-Asad sheltered after early warning systems detected another imminent strike.
“Though no attack occurred, a U.S. civilian contractor suffered a cardiac episode while sheltering and passed away shortly after,” Ryder said, offering condolences.
Strikes on bases with U.S. troops have been commonplace in recent years. An attack earlier this year that killed a U.S. contractor and injured five soldiers prompted the U.S. to strike back on facilities linked to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
“These small scale attacks are clearly concerning and dangerous, right? And we’re ... weighing everything necessary to ensure that we’re protecting our forces,” Ryder said. “And if and when we choose to respond, we’ll do so at a time of our choosing.”
Meghann Myers is the Pentagon bureau chief at Military Times. She covers operations, policy, personnel, leadership and other issues affecting service members.