Washington — Three U.S. service members were killed and dozens more were injured Sunday in an unmanned aerial drone attack on a base in Jordan, President Biden and the U.S. military said.
In a statement, the president blamed the attack on “radical militant groups supported by Iran and operating in Syria and Iraq.” Mr Biden said the attack took place at a base in northeastern Jordan, a US ally, near the border with Syria. A U.S. official said the attack took place at an outpost known as Tower 22.
U.S. Central Command, which oversees forces in the Middle East, initially estimated the number of wounded at 25, but two U.S. officials quickly said that figure had risen to more than 30. CENTCOM said the identity of the people killed would not be disclosed for 24 hours afterwards. their families had been notified.
This strike was considered the deadliest attack on American soldiers sincein a suicide attack in Kabul as the United States was withdrawing from Afghanistan in 2021.
The drone strike comes as tensions between the United States and Iran’s proxies in the region have reached precarious heights in recent weeks, increasing the risk that Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza could erupt. into a broader regional conflict.
Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels began attacking transport ships in the Red Sea in October to protest the war in Gaza. The United States and its allies began launching airstrikes against Houthi targets in Yemen earlier this month, hoping to stop maritime attacks. On Friday, Houthi militantsat the USS Carney, it was the first time the group had targeted an American warship. The destroyer shot down the missile without causing any injuries.
The previous week, the US military said two Navy SEALsafter they were thrown overboard while trying to board an Iranian ship that was delivering “advanced conventional weapons” to Houthi rebels.
In his statement on Sunday, Mr. Biden called the attack in Jordan “despicable and completely unjust,” promising that the United States “will hold all those responsible to account when and how we choose.” The White House said his top aides briefed the president on the attack Sunday morning, and a U.S. official said a meeting was expected at the White House later in the day to determine a response.
Congressional Republicans reacted angrily to news of the attack, calling on the Biden administration to retaliate against Iran. House Speaker Mike Johnson said the administration “must send a clear message across the world that attacks on our troops will not be tolerated.” Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a prominent Republican Party defense hawk, said the United States should strike “significant targets” inside Iran itself to deter future attacks.
“Hit Iran now,” Graham said. “Hit them hard.”
Margaret Brennan contributed reporting.
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