Three U.S. service members have been killed and a minimum of 34 others have been injured in Jordan on Sunday in what the Biden administration mentioned was a drone strike by an Iran-backed militia. battle with Hamas.
The assault passed off on a distant logistics outpost in northeastern Jordan referred to as Tower 22, the place the borders of Syria, Iraq and Jordan meet. The one-way drone struck the outpost’s residing quarters, inflicting accidents starting from minor cuts to mind trauma, a U.S. navy official mentioned.
However the deaths of US service members, most of whom have been navy reservists, will virtually actually enhance stress on President Biden to retaliate extra forcefully as preventing intensifies within the Center East following the October 7 assaults that killed 1,200 individuals in Israel .
“Three American service members have been killed — and lots of have been injured — throughout an unmanned aerial drone strike on our troops stationed in northeastern Jordan, close to the border with Syria,” Biden mentioned in an announcement on Sunday. “Whereas we’re nonetheless gathering the info about this assault, we all know it was carried out by radical Iranian-backed militant teams working in Syria and Iraq.”
Later, in Columbia, S.C., Mr. Biden mentioned, “Now we have misplaced three courageous souls.” The president then noticed a second of silence earlier than including, “We are going to reply.”
Protection Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III additionally blamed Iranian-backed militias for continued assaults on U.S. forces within the area, however he couldn’t determine which nation launched the assault. “The President and I cannot tolerate assaults on American forces, and we are going to take all vital actions to defend america, our troops, and our pursuits,” Austin mentioned.
The Pentagon declined to determine the lifeless troopers or their items pending notification of relations. The navy’s Central Command mentioned in an announcement that eight of the injured service members had been flown to “increased stage of care” exterior the nation, which different officers mentioned was in Iraq. The Central Command mentioned it anticipated the variety of wounded to “fluctuate” as extra troopers sought remedy.
In an announcement, Iran-backed militias, calling themselves the Axis of Resistance, claimed duty for the assault on the bottom in a distant desert space of Jordan. They are saying it’s a “continuation of our method to resisting US occupation forces in Iraq and the area.”
A spokesman for Iran’s Overseas Ministry, Nasser Kanaani, mentioned at a information convention on Monday that the militias “don’t take orders” from Iran and act independently to oppose “any aggression and occupation.” He mentioned allegations that Iran ordered the assault have been “baseless” and blamed Israel and america for fueling instability within the area.
The drone strike got here as Israel and Hezbollah, one other Iranian ally, exchanged hearth throughout the Lebanese border. A Houthi militia in Yemen, additionally backed by Iran, has fired missiles and drones at industrial ships within the Pink Sea and Gulf of Aden, calling it retaliation for Israel’s bombardment of Gaza. The US and its allies have fired again, hanging a minimum of a dozen instances in Yemen.
And on Jan. 20, a minimum of 4 U.S. service members stationed in western Iraq have been injured when their air base got here below heavy missile and rocket hearth from what U.S. officers mentioned have been Iranian-backed militias. It was the most recent in a minimum of 164 assaults by Iranian-backed militias towards US forces in Syria, Iraq and Jordan because the October 7 assaults.
Till Sunday’s lethal assault, senior authorities officers mentioned solely luck may have spared america from extra severe casualties. A drone full of explosives landed on a barracks on the Erbil air base in Iraq on October 25. It turned out to be a dud, however a number of troopers would seemingly have been injured or killed if the drone had exploded, a senior navy official mentioned. .
The drone strike in Jordan on Sunday confirmed that Iran-backed militias – whether or not in Iran or Syria, or the Houthis in Yemen – remained capable of inflict severe penalties on US forces, regardless of the efforts of the US navy to weaken them and forestall them from getting concerned in a wider battle. battle, presumably with Iran itself.
“We don’t wish to go down a path of better escalation that leads to a much wider battle throughout the area,” Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Workers, mentioned Sunday.
When requested in a pre-recorded session on ABC Information’ “This Week” whether or not he thought Iran wished battle with america, Normal Brown, echoing U.S. intelligence assessments, mentioned, “No, I do not suppose so.” ‘
In his assertion, Mr Biden referred to as the fallen US troops “patriots within the highest sense” and mentioned they “risked their very own security for the protection of their fellow Individuals, and of our allies and companions with whom we stand within the struggle towards terrorism. It’s a struggle that we are going to not cease.”
On Sunday, the Pentagon declared two Navy SEALs lifeless after they disappeared 10 days earlier throughout an operation at sea to intercept weapons from Iran sure for Houthi fighters.
The naval commandos have been the primary recognized U.S. fatalities in Washington’s marketing campaign towards the Houthis, who’ve launched dozens of assaults on ships within the Pink Sea from territory they management within the nation’s north since November, roiling the worldwide transport business introduced.
The Individuals killed on Sunday have been the primary recognized fatalities from enemy hearth within the area since Hamas’ assaults on October 7.
About 350 military and air power personnel are deployed on the Tower 22 border publish. It serves as a logistics and provide heart for the close by Al Tanf garrison in southeastern Syria, the place U.S. forces are working with native Syrian companions to fight the remnants of the Islamic State . The US additionally has about 2,000 troops stationed at an air base in Azraq, Jordan, in addition to Particular Operations troops and navy trainers.
“By concentrating on Jordanian territory, Iran may exacerbate a brand new US relationship within the area,” mentioned Charles Lister of the Center East Institute in Washington.
The Jordanian authorities issued an announcement condemning the assault, saying the Individuals have been “cooperating with Jordan in countering terrorism and securing the border.”
It was unclear Sunday why air defenses on the outpost didn’t intercept the drone, which seemed to be the primary recognized assault on the positioning since assaults on U.S. forces started shortly after the Oct. 7 raid, in accordance with former navy commanders.
In 2016, the US navy turned Al Tanf right into a small base. It’s situated on the strategic Baghdad-Damascus freeway – a significant hyperlink for forces backed by Syrian ally Iran, in a hall operating from the Iranian capital Tehran, by way of Iraq and Syria to southern Lebanon.
The Rukban refugee camp, with round 8,000 inhabitants, is near each Al Tanf and Tower 22.
Troops at Al Tanf have beforehand come below hearth from Iranian-backed militias. The Protection Ministry mentioned final fall that 21 troops had suffered minor accidents however had returned to obligation after the Oct. 17 and 18 assaults on the Al Asad air base in western Iraq and the Al Tanf garrison.
Republicans in Congress who’ve criticized Biden’s dealings with Iran and its allies seized on Sunday’s assault to demand the administration take stronger motion.
“We should reply to those repeated assaults by Iran and its allies by hanging straight towards Iranian targets and its leaders,” mentioned Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi, the highest Republican on the Armed Providers Committee. “The Biden administration’s responses thus far have solely led to extra assaults.”