It is the first time that American military personnel have died by enemy fire since the start of the Israel-Hamas war
Three US Army soldiers have been killed and many others wounded by an overnight drone attack in Jordan, President Joe Biden has announced. The strike on a US army outpost represents a significant escalation of simmering tensions in the Middle East.
A press release issued by US Central Command (CENTCOM) on Sunday listed the number of American personnel injured in the attack at 25.
“Last night, three US service members were killed – and many wounded – during an unmanned aerial drone attack on our forces stationed in northeast Jordan near the Syrian border,” Biden said in a statement issued by the White House on Sunday. “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.”
Prior to Friday there had been at least 158 attacks on US and coalition forces in Iraq and Syria, according to CNN. However, the vast majority of the operations have not posed a serious threat or caused major damage to infrastructure.
On this occasion, US air defenses appear to have failed to intercept the drone strike, which was the first on the facility, known as Tower 22, since attacks on US and coalition targets in the region escalated on October 17. US forces are stationed in the region to provide training and assistance to Jordanian troops.
“The three American service members we lost were patriots in the highest sense,” Biden said in his official statement. “And their ultimate sacrifice will never be forgotten by our nation.”
The US president added: “We will carry 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 attack in Jordan comes as tensions ramp up in the Middle East, and as regional powers continue to object to Israel’s ongoing bombardment of Gaza in response to Hamas’ cross-border offensive on October 7. Washington, as well as other nations, have warned that the conflict could expand into a broader regional war.
The US has struck several groups in Iraq and Syria recently that it claims are backed by Iran, including one last week. It has also conducted a bombing campaign alongside the UK against Tehran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen in response to a series of attacks on shipping in the Red Sea.
The deaths of the three US service members comes ahead of talks between US and Iraqi officials over the future US military presence in the country. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said last week that discussions would begin “in the coming days.”