Where U.S. troops are stationed in the Middle East

With the Israel-Hamas war escalating, the United States risks becoming involved in a larger conflict that could entangle some of the more than 40,000 U.S. military personnel based across the region.

Why it matters: U.S. troops and military contractors in Iraq and Syria have been targeted in over a dozen attacks by Iranian-backed militia groups since Hamas’ surprise attack against Israeli civilians and soldiers on Oct. 7.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has warned of the “prospect of a significant escalation of attacks on our troops and our people throughout the region.”

Between the lines: The attacks, as well as a wider war, could reverse efforts in recent years to reduce the U.S. presence in the Middle East as part of a strategic pivot to toward the Pacific.

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