A drone attack on a base in Jordan killed three American troops on Sunday, with President Joe Biden blaming Iran-backed militants and vowing to hold the perpetrators to account.
It is the first time American military personnel have been killed by hostile fire in the Middle East since the start of the Israel-Hamas war, and the incident will further raise tensions in the region and feed fears of a broader conflict directly involving Iran.
“Three US service members were killed – and many wounded – during an unmanned aerial drone attack on our forces stationed in northeast Jordan near the Syria border,” Biden said in a statement.
“While we are still gathering the facts of this attack, we know it was carried out by radical Iran-backed militant groups operating in Syria and Iraq,” he said.
“We will carry on their commitment to fight terrorism. And have no doubt – we will hold all those responsible to account at a time and in a manner of our choosing,” the president added.
I am outraged and deeply saddened by the deaths of three of our U.S. service members and the wounding of other American troops in an attack last night against U.S. and Coalition forces, who were deployed to a site in northeastern Jordan near the Syrian border to work for the…
— Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III (@SecDef) January 28, 2024
US and allied forces in Iraq and Syria have been targeted in more than 150 attacks since mid-October, according to the Pentagon, and Washington has carried out retaliatory strikes in both countries.
Many of the attacks on US personnel have been claimed by the Islamic Resistance in Iraq, a loose alliance of Iran-linked armed groups that oppose US support for Israel in the Gaza conflict.
The latest round of the Israel-Hamas conflict began when the Palestinian militant group carried out a shock attack on October 7 that resulted in about 1,140 deaths, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally of official figures.
Following the attack, the United States rushed military aid to Israel, which has carried out a relentless military offensive that has killed at least 26,422 people in Gaza, most of them women and children, according to the Gaza health ministry.
Those deaths have sparked widespread anger in the Middle East and provided an impetus for violence against both American and Israeli interests in the region.