WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. attributed the drone attack that killed three U.S. service members in Jordan to the Islamic Resistance in Iraq, an umbrella group of Iran-backed militias, as President Joe Biden weighs his response options to the strike.
This attribution comes amidst heightened tensions with Iran, which threatened to “decisively respond” to any U.S. attack on the Islamic Republic after being held responsible by the U.S. for the drone strike in Jordan. The attack at Tower 22, a secretive base in northeastern Jordan crucial to the American presence in neighboring Syria, also left at least 40 troops wounded.
National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said the U.S. believes the attack was planned, resourced, and facilitated by the Islamic Resistance in Iraq, which includes the militant group Kataib Hezbollah. Kirby also stated that President Biden is considering an appropriate response, indicating it won’t be a one-off retaliation.
Biden is set to attend the return of the fallen troops to U.S. soil on Friday at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, known as a dignified transfer. This comes as fears of further escalation in the region arise, especially in light of ongoing conflicts involving Iran’s influence in the Middle East.
Meanwhile, violence has erupted in multiple countries across the Mideast, with Iran striking targets in Iraq, Pakistan, and Syria, while the U.S. carried out airstrikes targeting Yemen’s Houthi rebels. The U.S. Navy destroyer in the waterway also shot down an anti-ship cruise missile launched by the Houthis, prompting concerns of a wider war in the region.
Amidst the rising tensions, Iran’s ambassador to the U.N. warned of a strong response to any attack on the country, its interests, and nationals, denying any exchange of messages with the U.S. over the last few days. The Revolutionary Guard commander Gen. Hossein Salami echoed the sentiment, stating that Iran is not after war but is prepared to respond to any threats.
The ongoing conflict has also included attacks by Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in the Red Sea, targeting U.S. ships and raising concerns for the safety of commercial aviation traveling through and over Iran. These developments have sparked international concern, with the European Union planning to launch a naval mission in the Red Sea to defend cargo ships against Houthi attacks.