US troops stopped getting attacked after the Israel-Hamas truce
Speaking Security Newsletter | Note n°227 | 29 November 2023
The six-day truce between Israel and Hamas will either be extended today or Israel will resume its genocidal assault on Gaza. Those appear to be the two most likely options. The break in fighting has been good for people in captivity — dozens of hostages and wrongfully detained prisoners have been released. The truce has more or less held despite a brief exchange of gunfire between Hamas and Israeli forces, and the latter shooting and killing two Palestinian kids in the West Bank yesterday. Humanitarian aid was allowed into Gaza, too.
A failure to extend the quasi-ceasefire will likely result in deaths of US troops stationed in the region. Since October 17 — around the time the US began to ramp up its assistance to Israel and beef up its military presence in the Middle East — US troops in Iraq and Syria have been attacked 73 times by local militias, reportedly affiliated with Iran. No troop deaths yet, but one contractor died, and the Pentagon reported that there have been “several dozen injuries, including…traumatic brain injuries.” The casualty figures could easily be much, much higher: As the chart below shows, the pace of the attacks is staggering.
The chart also shows zero attacks on US troops in Iraq and Syria in the six days since Thanksgiving, coinciding perfectly with the aforementioned six-day truce. The connection is obvious, but the Biden administration refuses to admit it: “As far as why Iranian proxies have chosen not to conduct attacks [since November 23], I'd refer you to them,” said Pentagon spokesperson Pat Ryder to a reporter.
^Alt text for screen-readers: Attacks on U.S. troops in Iraq and Syria stopped during the Israel-Hamas truce. This line graph shows the running total of attacks on U.S. troops in Iraq and Syria since October 17. The pink line trends continuously upwards but levels off at 73, corresponding with the six-day truce between Israel and Hamas. Figures are of November 29, 2023. Data comes from the author’s analysis of Department of Defense speeches and statements. More at stephensemler.substack.com. Chart by Stephen Semler (@stephensemler).
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