I don’t think enough attention has been paid to US Central Command Commander Gen. Michael Kurilla’s public testimony on 23 March, in which he said that Iran-backed militias have attacked American troops in Syria 78 times since January 2021.

A day after Kurilla spoke, local fighters allied with Tehran’s Revolutionary Guards launched another attack with drones, killing a US contractor and wounding six other American service members.

At 2:40 a.m. local time, the United States dispatched F-15E fighter jets to the area and struck facilities allegedly used by the Iranian-backed assailants. The militias fired back with a volley of rocket and drone attacks against coalition bases.

There is much to unpack in Kurilla’s remarkable statement, starting with the fact that the lethal attack against American personnel happened less than three weeks after US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley’s visit to northeastern Syria, which was specifically designed to assess force protection measures for the 900 US troops that are stationed in the country.


Continue reading in Al Majalla


U.S. Army photo by Capt. Elizabeth Rogers

The Middle East Institute (MEI) is an independent, non-partisan, non-for-profit, educational organization. It does not engage in advocacy and its scholars’ opinions are their own. MEI welcomes financial donations, but retains sole editorial control over its work and its publications reflect only the authors’ views. For a listing of MEI donors, please click here.