Just about two weeks ago it seemed like the escalation of tensions between the United States and Iran was heading for open warfare. And contrary to what many believe, the danger hasn’t abated at all for American or European troops in the region. 

It began with Iranian-led militias that had rocketed and mortared over a dozen times bases in the region that housed U.S. troops. The United States responded with heavy airstrikes on Iranian proxy militias in both Iraq and Syria. That’s when the proxy militias in a tit-for-tat campaign escalated things with two days of attacks against the United States Embassy in Baghdad. When American intelligence learned that General Qassem Soleimani — the commander of Iran’s Quds Forces, Iran’s “fighters without border” and in charge of the militias — was flying into Baghdad, they struck. 

Soleimani’s small convoy of vehicles was located and hit by missile fire from an American drone on January 3. Soleimani and the Deputy Commander of the Popular Mobilization Forces, the Iranian proxy forces militia, were killed in the attack.

Worries were that this act would lead to open warfare. And as much as some in the Iranian and U.S. governments may have wanted that, neither side wants it to actually happen. The Iranians responded with a missile attack on January 8, which hit a couple of U.S. bases. No one was seriously wounded or killed. Although several American troops were later treated in Kuwait and Germany for concussion injuries.