Columbia, South Carolina –
Three American soldiers were killed and dozens injured in a drone strike near the Syrian border in northeastern Jordan, the U.S. military said Sunday. President Joe Biden blamed Iran-backed militias for the first U.S. death after months of attacks by insurgents against U.S. troops across the Middle East amid the Israel-Hamas war.
Amid the growing risk of military escalation in the region, U.S. officials were working to identify the exact perpetrator group of the attack, but assessed that one of several Iranian-backed groups was behind the attack. .
Biden said the United States “will hold everyone responsible accountable at once, in the way we choose.” Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said: “We will take all actions necessary to protect America, our military, and our interests.”
Omar Abu Laila, a Europe-based activist and director of Deir Ezzor 24 Media, said Iranian-backed fighters in eastern Syria began evacuating their positions fearing U.S. airstrikes. He told The Associated Press that the area is the stronghold of Mayadeen and Bukamal.
At least 34 soldiers were injured in the one-way drone strike, U.S. officials said. Another official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss details that have not been made public, also said a large drone struck the United States. The base was identified by two other American officials as a facility in Jordan known as Tower 22. The base is located along the Syrian border and is primarily used by forces involved in advisory and support missions to the Jordanian military.
Although not disclosed by Jordan, the small facility includes U.S. engineering, aviation, logistics and security forces. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the troops were deployed “to work for the lasting defeat of ISIS.” Three officials said the drone struck near the unit’s sleeping quarters, explaining the high number of casualties.
The US military base in al-Tanf, Syria, is just 20 kilometers (12 miles) north of Tower 22. Jordanian facilities are important logistics hubs for U.S. forces in Syria, including the al-Tanf base near the Syrian crossroads. Border between Iraq, Syria and Jordan.
Jordanian state television, citing government spokesman Muhanad Mubaiddin, claimed the attack occurred across the Syrian border.
U.S. forces have long been based in Jordan, which borders Iraq, Israel, the Palestinian territories of the West Bank, Saudi Arabia and Syria. U.S. Central Command announced three people dead and 25 injured.
There are usually about 3,000 U.S. troops stationed in Jordan.
Since the war in Gaza began on October 7, Iranian-backed militias have attacked U.S. military facilities in Iraq more than 60 times and in Syria more than 90 times, using a combination of drones, rockets, mortars, and ballistic missiles. It is carried out. Sunday’s attack was the first to target U.S. forces in Jordan during the Israel-Hamas war, and the first to result in loss of American life. The attack left numerous U.S. military personnel injured, including one who suffered a traumatic brain injury.
The militia said the attack was in retaliation for Washington’s support for Israel in the Gaza war, and also said it was aimed at forcing American troops out of the area.
In recent months, the United States has responded to attacks on U.S. forces in the region by striking targets in Iraq, Syria and Yemen to stop Iranian-backed Houthi rebels from continuing to threaten commercial shipping in the Red Sea.
“I am confident that the Biden administration will respond in a planned and proportionate manner,” said Sen. Jack Reed, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Congressional Republicans said the administration’s approach has failed to deter America’s adversaries in the region.
“We need a major overhaul of our Middle East policy to protect our national security interests,” said Republican Representative Michael McCaul (Texas), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R.S.C., went further, calling on the regime to strike “high-value targets inside Iran, not only in retaliation for the killing of our troops, but also as a deterrent against future aggression.” The only thing the Iranian regime understands is power. ”
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said that during a visit to Columbia, South Carolina on Sunday, Biden spent the morning meeting with Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and National Security Advisor John Finner. He said he received an explanation from the deputy national security adviser. In the afternoon, he met virtually with Vice President Kamala Harris and the national security team for an update.
The president called it a “despicable and completely unwarranted attack” and said the service members “risked their own safety for the safety of their fellow Americans and our allies and partners in the fight against terrorism.” “There is,” he said. we won’t quit. ”
Syria remains in the midst of a civil war and has long been a stronghold for Iranian-backed forces, including the Lebanese militia Hezbollah. Several Iranian-backed Shiite militias also operate in Iraq.
Jordan, a staunch ally of the West and a key force in Jerusalem’s oversight of the city’s holy sites, has launched airstrikes in Syria to disrupt drug smugglers, including those who killed nine people earlier this month. There is a suspicion that
The Iranian-backed umbrella group known as the Islamic Resistance in Iraq earlier claimed to have launched explosive drone attacks targeting three regions in Syria and one area in “occupied Palestine.” The group has claimed responsibility for dozens of attacks on U.S. military bases in Iraq and Syria since the start of the Israel-Hamas war.
Three officials from Iran-backed militias in Iraq, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter with journalists, said the drone attack on the Jordanian base was launched by one of the Iraqi groups. Ta. No force has yet officially claimed responsibility.
Officials said the U.S. military was not tracking any other attacks on U.S. forces in the area on Sunday.