The drone strike in Jordan killed three American troops after US air defenses confused it for a friendly aircraft, according to the Wall Street Journal. The kamikaze attack late Saturday impacted a base in the northeast part of the country known as Tower 22 near the Syria border, and resulted in at least 34 other injuries. Iran – the main backer of anti-Israel group Hezbollah – and its proxies are the main suspects, US officials said previously.
Now, the Wall Street Journal has reported that the US failed to stop the attack because the enemy drone approached its target at the same time as a US drone returning to base and the two were confused. The newspaper spoke with US officials who gave details on condition of anonymity. The drone was launched by from Iraq by a militia backed by Tehran, according to US officials, and hit the base which sits close to the borders of both Iraq and Syria.
President Joe Biden announced the deaths of three American troops the morning after the attack. ‘Today, America’s heart is heavy,’ he wrote from the White House. ‘Last night, three U.S. service members were killed – and many wounded – during an unmanned aerial drone attack on our forces stationed in northeast Jordan near the Syria border.’
Meanwhile, conflict in the war-torn Middle Eastern region continues to escalate, with the war in Gaza still ongoing, and Iran currently exchanging airstrikes with US ally Pakistan. The names of those killed have not been released. They are the first American soldiers killed in the Middle East since Oct. 7 when Hamas launched an attack on Israel. ‘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,’ Biden said in his statement.
‘Jill and I join the families and friends of our fallen – and Americans across the country – in grieving the loss of these warriors in this despicable and wholly unjust attack.’ He added how the three fallen soldiers ’embodied the very best of our nation’ – them being ‘unwavering in their bravery… unflinching in their duty… [and] unbending in their commitment to our country.’ He declared they died ‘risking their own safety for the safety of their fellow Americans, and our allies and partners with whom we stand in the fight against terrorism.’
‘It is a fight we will not cease,’ Biden, 81, proclaimed. While not identifying the militants responsible, the statement confirmed the strike was the work of anti-Western jihadists operating somewhere in the region. Both countries, as of Sunday, boast a bevy of Iran-aligned militias, including Hezbollah and several other Shia militant groups. Since the Syrian War in 2011, Iran has also backed multiple Palestinian terror groups based in Gaza, and various terrorist groups in Bahrain and elsewhere across the Middle East.
Since the war – which served to intensify Iranian economic, political and religious operations in the country – Iran has openly used its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force to fund these terrorist organizations. In 2019, the nuclear-capable country acknowledged the involvement of the force in the Iraq and Syria conflicts, spurring the US to designate the Iranian army as a Foreign Terrorist Organization. Iran has also been known regional militant and proxy groups to achieve deniability in such strikes, as well as shield it from accountability for its destabilizing policies. The country is also currently embroiled in an artillery-laden game of chicken with its own neighbor in Pakistan, which is one of NATO’s main allies in the Middle East.
Just last week, Pakistan’s air force launched retaliatory airstrikes on two alleged militant positions in Iran, days after an Iranian airstrike killed two children in their own country. The air attacks in Sistan and Baluchestan province killed at least seven – and added to tensions already present between the two nations and the region as a whole. They also added to a death toll in the Middle East that is well into the thousands since the conflict in Gaza broke out in October. A few weeks ago, Pakistan recalled its ambassador to Tehran because of Tuesday’s strikes by Iran inside Pakistan’s southwestern Baluchistan province. Iran claimed it targeted bases for a militant Sunni separatist group. It drew strong condemnation from Pakistan, which denounced the attack as a ‘blatant violation’ of its airspace and said it killed two children.
If Marhamati’s account of the casualties is correct, the country duplicated Pakistan’s minor-killing offense at least two fold. As Iranians continue to assess the full scope of the attack, the war more than a thousand miles west in Israel continues to rage. Another 1,000 miles southwest, four fresh strikes were carried out by the US on Yemen, targeting anti-ship ballistic missiles used by another rebel group backed by Iran, the Houthi. Earlier in the month, shortly after Iran’s attack on Pakistani soil, the group warned that British and American ships in the Red Sea have now become ‘legitimate targets’, given the state of the greater conflict The Houthis have since targeted ships in the region sporadically, with the attacks ramping up recently.
In response, the US launched Operation Prosperity Guardian – an international coalition to safeguard the region, with many other countries, including Spain and the UK, taking part. A reported 1,200 commercial ships have passed through the sea since the operation was launched on December, with none hit by drone or missile strikes until the first phase of the Sunday strike, when militants attacked the Hangzhou with several missiles. US Navy Vice Admiral Brad Cooper on Friday had already warned that even with the taskforce, the Houthis do not seem set on ending their ‘reckless’ attacks, after targeting more than 100 ships in the Red Sea since November. The Sunday attack shows the group’s continued resolve to support Hamas, which Israel recently pledged to continue to try to eradicate.
The incidents have fueled concerns about the danger of the Israeli offensive sparking a wider conflict and a simultaneous rise in gas prices, as it is also one of the most important routes for oil and liquefied natural gas shipments in the Middle East. On Sunday the official representative of the Jordanian Cabinet of Ministers denied that the Saturday strike occurred in the country at all, saying it instead happened at a well-known US military base at Tanf in Syria, not on Jordanian territory. The US has yet to confirm those claims, but has issued statements citing American intelligence that indicate otherwise. The military branches the soldiers belonged to, as of Sunday, have yet to be specified.
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