Photo: Planet Labs PBC via Associated Press According to the US military Middle East Command (CENTCOM), the attack killed 3 soldiers and injured at least 34 people, eight of whom had to be evacuated from the military base located in northeastern Jordan, near the Syrian border.
W.G. Dunlop – Agence France-Presse in Washington
January 28, 2024
- Middle East
Three American soldiers were killed and more than 30 injured in a drone attack in Jordan, against which American President Joe Biden promised to respond on Sunday by targeting pro-Iran groups. “We will respond,” he said on the sidelines of a trip to South Carolina.
This is the first time that American soldiers have been killed in the Middle East since the war between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip began on October 7, raising renewed fears of a escalation of tensions against a backdrop of latent war between Israel and Iran.
“Today, America has a heavy heart. Last night, three U.S. service members were killed, and several injured, in a drone attack on our forces based in northeastern Jordan, near the Syrian border,” the U.S. president previously said in a statement.
“We know this was carried out by Iranian-backed radical fighter groups operating in Syria and Iraq,” Biden said. “Have no doubt: we will hold everyone responsible to account, when and how we want.”
“We will take all necessary measures to defend the United States, our troops and our interests,” Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin continued in a statement.
According to the US Middle East Command (CENTCOM), the attack injured at least 34 people at the base, eight of whom had to be evacuated.
Approximately 350 members of the army and air force carry out essential support missions from this base, including in the fight against the Islamic State group, specifies CENTCOM in a press release.
In this election year in the United States, Joe Biden's Republican adversaries did not wait to criticize his diplomatic record, with Donald Trump denouncing on Sunday “the weakness, the abandonment” of the Democrat.
The spokesperson for the Jordanian government, Muhannad Mubaidin, for his part condemned “the terrorist attack which targeted an advanced position on the border with Syria”, striking American troops “who cooperate with Jordan to confront terrorism and secure the border. » He initially claimed that the attack had occurred in Syria.
The attack was also condemned by Egypt, Bahrain and the United Kingdom, whose head of diplomacy, David Cameron, called on Iran for “de-escalation in the region”.
On its Telegram account, the “Islamic Resistance in Iraq”, a nebula of fighters from pro-Iran armed groups, for its part claimed “attacks carried out on Sunday at dawn with drones” against three bases in Syrian territory, including those of Al-Tanf and Rukban, very close to the point where Iraq, Syria and Jordan meet.
Sami Abou Zahri, a Hamas spokesman, said the deaths of the three soldiers “is a message to the US administration”: “the continuation of US-Zionist aggression in Gaza is risk a regional explosion.”
These American military deaths occur in an eruptive context: in addition to the war in Gaza, there have been multiple strikes and attacks between, on the one hand, Iran and its regional allies, and on the other Israel, the United States United and their partners.
Since mid-October, more than 150 drone strikes or rocket attacks have targeted American and coalition soldiers in Iraq and Syria. They are generally claimed by the “Islamic Resistance in Iraq”. Washington had so far responded with targeted strikes in Iraq.
Further south, the Houthis, who have been targeting international maritime traffic off the coast of Yemen for several months, have also been the target of American strikes since the beginning of January.
In addition, Israel has intensified its strikes against the Syrian regime and pro-Iranian groups in that country. Israel also faces, on its northern border, regular exchanges of fire with Lebanese Hezbollah, very close to Iran.
The war in Gaza was sparked by the unprecedented attack by the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas in Israel on October 7, which resulted in the deaths of around 1,140 people in Israel, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally taken in based on official Israeli figures.
In response, Israel launched a vast military operation in Gaza, which left 26,422 people dead, the vast majority of them women, children and adolescents, according to the latest report from the Hamas Ministry of Health.