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Mix-Up Preceded Deadly Drone Strike in Jordan, U.S. Officials Say

Mix-Up Preceded Deadly Drone Strike in Jordan, U.S. Officials Say


The Pentagon on Monday recognized the dead troopers as Sgt. William Jerome Rivers, 46, of Carrollton, Ga.; Spec. Kennedy Ladon Sanders, 24, of Waycross, Ga.; and Spec. Breonna Alexsondria Moffett, 23, of Savannah, Ga. The three have been assigned to the 718th Engineer Company, 926th Engineer Battalion, 926th Engineer Brigade, an Army Reserve unit based mostly in Fort Moore, Ga.

The drone strike on the outpost in northeast Jordan close to its borders with Syria and Iraq, referred to as Tower 22, escalated hostilities within the area which have been mounting for the reason that Oct. 7 Hamas assault on Israel and the following struggle in Gaza.

Mr. Biden has vowed to retaliate, and he met for a second straight day on Monday together with his senior nationwide safety aides to debate doable targets in Syria, Iraq and Iran. Senior U.S. officers mentioned attacking Iran immediately was much less seemingly, although the U.S. army has drawn up plans to strike Iranian army advisers and trainers in Iraq and Syria within the occasion that U.S. troops have been killed by Iran-backed militias within the Middle East.

Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III, on his first day again to work on the Pentagon since his surgical procedure final month for prostate most cancers, condemned the assaults and vowed retribution.

“Let me begin with my outrage and sorrow for the deaths of three courageous U.S. troops in Jordan and for the opposite troops who have been wounded,” Mr. Austin mentioned earlier than assembly with NATO’s secretary normal, Jens Stoltenberg. “The president and I cannot tolerate assaults on U.S. forces, and we are going to take all essential actions to defend the U.S. and our troops.”

The drone strike in Jordan underscored 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. army’s efforts to weaken them and keep away from tumbling right into a wider battle, presumably with Iran itself.

American troops in Iraq and Syria, and now Jordan, have come beneath assault at the very least 165 occasions since October — 66 occasions in Iraq, 98 occasions in Syria and Sunday’s assault in Jordan — the Pentagon mentioned on Monday. More than 80 service members had suffered accidents, together with mind trauma, earlier than the newest salvo.

“We know that Iran helps these teams,” John F. Kirby, a National Security Council spokesman, mentioned on Monday. “We know they useful resource them, we all know they prepare them. We know that they’re definitely not discouraging these assaults.”

But Mr. Kirby added, “The diploma to which they order and direct is one thing that intelligence analysts will take a look at.”

Pressed repeatedly at briefings with reporters on Monday about when and the way the United States would reply, Mr. Kirby and Ms. Singh declined to touch upon particular choices. They emphasised that the administration was looking for to avert a wider struggle within the area, at the same time as they blamed the assault for escalating tensions.

“We’re not in search of a struggle with Iran,” Mr. Kirby mentioned, including: “The assaults have to cease.”

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken mentioned on Monday that he wouldn’t “telegraph” any potential U.S. response however that such motion “may very well be multileveled, are available levels — and be sustained over time.”

Mr. Blinken added: “This is an extremely unstable time within the Middle East. I’d argue that we have now not seen a state of affairs as harmful because the one we’re dealing with now throughout the area since at the very least 1973, and arguably even earlier than that.”

For its half, Iran on Monday denied any hyperlink to the assault and blamed Washington for igniting tensions within the area.

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 struggle remnants of the Islamic State.

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. army official mentioned. Eight U.S. service members have been flown to Iraq for medical care, and three of these have been anticipated to be flown to Germany for much more superior therapy, Ms. Singh mentioned.

The troopers and airmen have been dwelling in containerized housing items, Ms. Singh mentioned, primarily aluminum bins just a little greater than a business delivery container. They have linoleum flooring and cots or beds inside, and may be simply transported on vans.

“What was completely different about this assault is the place it landed,” Ms. Singh mentioned. “It was fairly early within the morning, so individuals have been truly of their beds when the drone impacted.”

Michael Crowley contributed reporting.

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