The number of attacks on U.S. troops in Iraq and Syria has climbed to 55 as of Monday, a Pentagon spokeswoman told reporters during a briefing, resulting in 59 injuries counted so far.

The attacks, 27 in Iraq and 28 in Syria, are part of an escalation in strikes by Iranian-backed militias in those countries that has steadily continued since Oct. 17.

In response, the Pentagon has deployed support troops and air defense units to the region to protect bases housing U.S. forces, as well as launched multiple strikes on facilities in Syria known to store weapons.

Singh pushed back on questioning as to whether the U.S. strikes have failed to deter the militias from further attacks.

“We have a very robust presence in the region right now,” she said. “That is sending, I think, a very strong message of deterrence. And while I certainly hear your question, we always reserve the right to respond in a time and place of our choosing.”

While U.S. troops in Iraq and Syria have come under drone attacks from time to time in recent years, the escalation since the beginning of the Hamas-Israel conflict is unprecedented.

Pentagon officials have not directly drawn a line between the attacks and U.S. support for Israel.

“I think that we are all sensitive to the fact that there are tensions in the region ... you are seeing, and we probably will continue to see, groups that may try to exploit the situation to benefit their own interests, to include Iranian proxy groups,” Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder, a Pentagon spokesman, said during a briefing Nov. 2.

Meghann Myers is the Pentagon bureau chief at Military Times. She covers operations, policy, personnel, leadership and other issues affecting service members.

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