3 US soldiers killed in drone strike by Iran-backed militia in Jordan

COLUMBIA, SC (AP) - President Joe Biden Said on Sunday that the US would "respond" thereafter. Three American soldiers were killed And dozens of others were injured in an overnight drone strike in the northeast Jordan Near the Syrian border. Biden alleged Iran-backed militia It is the first American death following months of attacks by such groups against American forces across the Middle East since the beginning of the Israel-Hamas war,

Biden, who was traveling in South Carolina, asked for a moment of silence during an appearance at a Baptist church banquet hall.

“We had a tough day in the Middle East last night. We lost three brave men in the attack on one of our bases,” he said. After a moment of silence, Biden added, "And we will respond."

Together The threat of military escalation is increasing In the region, US officials were working to conclusively identify the exact group responsible for the attack, but they assessed that one of several Iranian-backed groups was behind it.

Biden said in a written statement that the United States would "hold accountable all those responsible at a time and in a way we choose." Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said, "We will take all necessary actions to protect the United States, our troops, and our interests."

According to Omar Abu Laila, a Europe-based activist who heads the Der Ezzor 24 media outlet, Iran-backed fighters in eastern Syria began evacuating their posts out of fear of US airstrikes. He told The Associated Press that these areas were strongholds of Mayadin and Boukamal.

US Central Command said at least 34 soldiers were injured by the one-sided drone strike, eight of whom were flown out of Jordan for follow-up care. It said all eight were in stable condition.

Large drones attacked a logistics support base known as Tower 22 in Jordan. It is along the Syrian border and is used extensively by troops involved in advise and support missions for Jordanian forces.

Central Command said about 350 US Army and Air Force personnel were deployed to the base. The three killed and most of the injured were military personnel, according to several US officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the information has not yet been made public.

The small installation, which Jordan does not publicly disclose, includes US engineering, aviation, logistics and security troops. Austin said the troops were deployed there "to work toward the permanent defeat of ISIS." Three officials said the drone struck near the soldiers' sleeping quarters, suggesting the number of casualties could be higher.

The US military base at al-Tanf in Syria is just 20 kilometers (12 mi) north of Tower 22. The Jordanian installation provides a vital logistics hub for US forces in Syria, including Al-Tanf, near where the borders of Iraq, Syria and Jordan intersect.

In a statement on Jordan's state-run Petra news agency, the country "condemned the terrorist attack" that targeted US troops. That report described the drone strike as targeting "a checkpoint on the border with Syria" and said it did not cause any harm to any Jordanian soldiers.

"Jordan will continue to combat terrorism and the smuggling of drugs and weapons into Jordan across the Syrian border and will firmly and decisively deter anyone attempting to attack the state's security," the statement quoted government spokesman Muhannad Mubedin as saying. Will face it with determination." , Said.

US troops have long used the state, which borders Jordan, Iraq, Israel, the Palestinian territories of the West Bank, Saudi Arabia and Syria, as a base. About 3,000 US troops are normally deployed across Jordan.

Since the war in Gaza began on October 7, Iran-backed militias have attacked US military installations more than 60 times in Iraq and 90 times in Syria with drones, rockets, mortars and ballistic missiles. Sunday's attack was the first to target US troops in Jordan during the Israel-Hamas war and resulted in the loss of American lives. A large number of US personnel have been injured during the attacks, including some with traumatic brain injuries.

The militias have said their attacks are in retaliation for Washington's support for Israel in the war in Gaza and are aimed at pushing US forces out of the area.

On Monday, Iran's Foreign Ministry rejected US allegations that Tehran was behind the drone attack, according to the official IRNA news agency. It quoted ministry spokesman Nasser Kanani as saying that "The Islamic Republic of Iran has no role in the resistance groups' decisions on how they support the Palestinian state or protect their people."

Iran is closely monitoring developments in the region, Kanani said, and stressed that "the responsibility for the consequences of provocative accusations against Iran will fall on those who make baseless accusations."

In recent months the US has struck targets in Iraq, Syria and Yemen to respond to attacks on US forces in the region and to prevent Iran-backed Houthi rebels from threatening commercial shipping in the Red Sea.

Senator Jack Reed, D.R.I., head of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Said, "I am confident that the Biden administration will respond in a deliberate and proportionate manner."

Republicans in Congress said the administration's approach has failed to deter America's adversaries in the region.

"We need a massive change in our Middle East policy to protect our national security interests," said Republican Representative Michael McCaul of Texas, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Senator Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., went further, urging the administration to "strike critical targets inside Iran, not only as retaliation for the killing of our forces, but as a deterrent against future aggression." Too." “The only thing the Iranian regime understands is the use of force.”

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Biden, who was in Columbia, South Carolina, on Sunday, was briefed in the morning by Austin, national security adviser Jake Sullivan and principal deputy national security adviser John Finer. In the afternoon, he met virtually with Vice President Kamala Harris and her national security team for an update.

The president called it a "despicable and completely unjustified attack" in a written statement and said service members were "risking their safety for the safety of their fellow Americans and the safety of our allies and partners with whom we stand in battle." " Terrorism. This is a fight we will not stop.”

Syria is still in the midst of a civil war and has long been a launch pad for Iranian-backed forces, including the Lebanese militia Hezbollah. Several Iranian-backed Shia militias are also active in Iraq.

Jordan, a staunch Western ally and a key power in monitoring holy sites in Jerusalem Suspected of launching air strikes in Syria To disrupt drug traffickers, including the deaths of nine people earlier this month.

A group of Iran-backed factions, known as the Islamic Resistance in Iraq, earlier claimed to have carried out explosive drone strikes targeting three areas of Syria as well as an area inside "occupied Palestine". Did it. The group has claimed responsibility for dozens of attacks on US military targets in Iraq and Syria since the Israel-Hamas war began.

Three officials with an Iran-backed militia in Iraq, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter with journalists, said the drone strike against the base in Jordan was carried out by one of the Iraqi groups. was launched. No group has yet officially claimed responsibility.

Officials said the US military was not monitoring any other attacks on its forces in the region on Sunday.


Baldor reported from Washington. Associated Press writers Nasser Karimi in Tehran, Iran; Bassem Maroué and Abby Sewell in Beirut; Qasim Abdul-Zahra in Baghdad; Omar Akour in Amman, Jordan, and John Gambrell in Jerusalem contributed to this report.

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