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3 American Soldiers Killed in Drone Strike in Jordan, U.S. Says

3 American Soldiers Killed in Drone Strike in Jordan, U.S. Says


Three U.S. service members have been killed in Jordan on Sunday and a minimum of 34 others have been injured in what the Biden administration stated was a drone assault from an Iran-backed militia, the primary identified American navy fatalities from hostile fireplace within the turmoil spilling over from Israel’s warfare with Hamas.

The assault occurred at a distant logistics outpost in northeast Jordan referred to as Tower 22 the place the borders of Syria, Iraq and Jordan converge. The one-way assault drone hit close to the outpost’s dwelling quarters, inflicting accidents that ranged from minor cuts to mind trauma, a U.S. navy official stated.

But the deaths of U.S. service members, most of whom have been navy reservists, will nearly definitely improve strain on President Biden to retaliate extra forcefully as strife grows within the Middle East after the Oct. 7 assaults that killed 1,200 individuals in Israel.

“Three U.S. service members have been killed — and lots of wounded — throughout an unmanned aerial drone assault on our forces stationed in northeast Jordan close to the Syria border,” Mr. Biden stated in an announcement on Sunday. “While we’re nonetheless gathering the information of this assault, we all know it was carried out by radical Iran-backed militant teams working in Syria and Iraq.”

Speaking later in Columbia, S.C., Mr. Biden stated, “We misplaced three courageous souls.” The president then led a second of silence, earlier than including, “We shall reply.”

Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III additionally held Iran-backed militias answerable for the continued assaults in opposition to U.S. troops within the area, however he didn’t establish which nation the assault was launched from. “The president and I can’t tolerate assaults on American forces, and we are going to take all obligatory actions to defend the United States, our troops and our pursuits,” Mr. Austin stated.

The Pentagon declined to establish the service members who died or their items pending notification of relations. The navy’s Central Command stated in an announcement that eight of the injured service members have been flown to “higher-level care” outdoors the nation, which different officers stated was in Iraq. Central Command stated it anticipated the variety of injured to “fluctuate” as extra service members sought therapy.

In an announcement, the Iran-backed militias who name themselves the Axis of Resistance claimed duty for the assault on the bottom in a distant desert space of Jordan, saying it was a “continuation of our strategy to resisting the American occupation forces in Iraq and the area.”

A spokesman for Iran’s Foreign Ministry, Nasser Kanaani, stated 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 stated that accusations that Iran had ordered the strike have been “baseless,” and blamed Israel and the United States for fueling instability within the area.

The drone strike got here as Israel and Hezbollah, one other Iranian ally, have traded fireplace throughout the Lebanese border. A Houthi militia in Yemen, additionally backed by Iran, has fired missiles and drones at business ships within the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, calling it a retaliation for the Israeli bombardment of Gaza. The United States and its allies have fired again, hanging inside Yemen a minimum of 10 occasions.

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 rocket and missile fireplace from what American officers stated have been Iran-backed militias. It was the newest in a minimum of 164 strikes by Iran-backed militias in opposition to U.S. troops in Syria, Iraq and Jordan because the Oct. 7 assaults.

Until Sunday’s lethal assault, senior administration officers stated that solely luck had spared the United States from extra severe casualties. One drone filled with explosives landed on a barracks on the Erbil air base in Iraq on Oct. 25. It turned out to be a dud, however a number of service members would probably have been injured or killed had it exploded, a senior navy official stated.

The drone strike in Jordan on Sunday demonstrated that the Iran-backed militias — whether or not in Iran or Syria, or the Houthis in Yemen — remained able to inflicting severe penalties on American troops regardless of the U.S. navy’s efforts to weaken them and keep away from tumbling right into a wider battle, probably with Iran itself.

“We don’t wish to go down a path of better escalation that drives to a much wider battle throughout the area,” Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, stated on Sunday.

Asked in a prerecorded session on ABC News’s “This Week” whether or not he thought Iran wished warfare with the United States, General Brown, echoing assessments from the U.S. intelligence companies, stated, “No, I don’t assume so.”

In his assertion, Mr. Biden referred to as the fallen U.S. troops “patriots within the highest sense,” and stated they have been “risking their very own security for the protection of their fellow Americans, and our allies and companions with whom we stand within the battle in opposition to terrorism. It is a battle we is not going to stop.”

Last Sunday, the Pentagon declared two members of the Navy SEALs dead after they disappeared 10 days earlier throughout an operation at sea to intercept weapons from Iran headed to Houthi fighters.

The Navy commandos have been the primary identified U.S. fatalities in Washington’s marketing campaign in opposition to the Houthis, who from territory they management within the nation’s north have launched dozens of assaults on ships within the Red Sea since November, roiling the worldwide delivery trade.

The Americans killed on Sunday have been the primary identified fatalities from hostile fireplace within the area because the Oct. 7 assaults by Hamas.

About 350 Army and Air Force personnel are deployed to the Tower 22 border outpost. It serves as a logistics and resupply hub for the Al Tanf garrison close by in southeastern Syria, the place American troops work with native Syrian companions to battle remnants of the Islamic State. The United States additionally has about 2,000 troops stationed at an air base in Azraq, Jordan, in addition to Special Operations forces and navy trainers.

“By concentrating on Jordanian soil, Iran will get to exacerbate one other U.S. relationship within the area,” stated Charles Lister of the Middle East Institute in Washington.

The Jordanian authorities in an announcement condemned the assault and stated the Americans have been “cooperating with Jordan in countering terrorism and securing the border.”

It was unclear on Sunday why air defenses on the outpost didn’t intercept the drone, which former navy commanders stated seemed to be the primary identified assault on the situation since assaults on U.S. forces started quickly after the Oct. 7 incursion.

In 2016, the American navy turned Al Tanf right into a small base. It is on the strategic Baghdad-Damascus highway — an important hyperlink for forces backed by Syria’s ally Iran in a hall that runs from the Iranian capital, Tehran, by Iraq and Syria to southern Lebanon.

The Rukban refugee camp, with some 8,000 residents, is close to each Al Tanf and Tower 22.

Troops at Al Tanf have come below fireplace earlier than from Iran-backed militias. The Defense Department stated final fall that 21 troops had suffered minor accidents however returned to obligation after the assaults on Oct. 17 and 18 at Al Asad Air Base in western Iraq and the Al Tanf garrison.

Congressional Republicans who’ve criticized Mr. Biden’s coping with Iran and its proxies seized on Sunday’s assault to demand that the administration take extra forceful motion.

“We should reply to those repeated assaults by Iran and its proxies by hanging straight in opposition to Iranian targets and its management,” stated Senator Roger Wicker of Mississippi, the highest Republican on the Armed Services Committee. “The Biden administration’s responses to this point have solely invited extra assaults.”

Reporting was contributed by Alissa J. Rubin from New York, Zolan Kanno-Youngs from Charlotte, N.C., Peter Baker and Julian E. Barnes from Washington and Rana Sweis from Amman, Jordan.

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