Drone attack that killed 3 U.S. soldiers and wounded dozens more marks dramatic escalation of tensions in the Middle East
By Cassie B. // Feb 01, 2024

Tensions in the Middle East have ramped up significantly following an attack against a U.S. military post in Jordan that left three service members dead and at least 34 injured. American officials report that eight of the injured service members had to be evacuated for higher-level care, and the number of wounded is likely to rise as victims seek treatment for traumatic brain injury symptoms, which develop over time.

The attack took place overnight on Sunday at a small U.S. outpost in Jordan near the border with Syria known as Tower 22. It is the first time that American troops have died as a result of enemy fire in the Middle East since the war broke out between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.

A U.S. official confirmed that the attack was successful because the drone managed to get past Tower 22’s air defenses by being mistaken for an American drone that was expected to make its way back to the base at the sane time. Many troops were reportedly in their sleeping quarters as the attack took place during the early hours of morning.

The drone arrived “very low and very slow” at the same time as the American drone. Because the air defense system’s auto response features had been deactivated to avoid shooting down the American drone, the troops at the base had very little warning of the incoming attack, if any.

Iran denies involvement in the attack

U.S. Central Command said in a statement: "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.”

However, Iran has denied involvement in the attack, and the Islamic Resistance in Iraq has claimed responsibility for it. The coalition contains multiple militant groups that are believed to be backed by Iran.

Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Nasser Kanaani said that Tehran was “not involved in the decision making of resistance groups,” while Iranian Intelligence Minister Esmail Khatib maintained that the regional armed groups that are aligned with Tehran can respond to “American aggressors” however they see fit.

Major escalation as U.S. promises to retaliate

The incident represents a considerable escalation of the growing tensions in the region and could usher in the type of broader conflict that many around the world feared would be inevitable when the fighting began between Israel and Hamas.

The U.S. has vowed to retaliate, with President Biden saying that the country “will hold all those responsible to account at a time and in a manner of our choosing.”

White House National Security Spokesman John Kirby has said that the U.S. will pursue a “very consequential” response but is not looking to engage in a broader war with Iran.

There have been around 165 attacks on American and coalition forces in the Middle East since October 17 and six since Friday alone, including the drone attack on Sunday and a multi-rocket attack that targeted Patrol Base Shaddadi in Syria. The U.S. has also been contending with the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen, who have been carrying out attacks on commercial shipping in the Red Sea that are causing major disruptions to international commerce.

Kirby told CNN that while they are still trying to determine which specific group is responsible, they do believe that it was a militia group backed by Iran that was supported by Kataib Hezbollah.

He also pointed out that although this was the first deadly attack, it is important to remember that past attacks also aimed to kill Americans.

He said: “This one had lethal consequences in ways that previous ones didn’t, but that doesn’t mean that the intent of the previous attacks weren’t also lethal; it’s just that we were able to defeat them.”

Sources for this article include:




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