Three American troops were tragically killed and 25 others were injured on Sunday in a drone strike near the Syrian border in northeast Jordan. The attack, which occurred amidst the ongoing Israel-Hamas war, marks the first U.S. fatalities caused by Iran-backed militias after months of strikes against American forces in the Middle East.
President Joe Biden has squarely blamed Iran-backed militias for the attack and vowed to hold those responsible accountable. U.S. officials are currently working to identify the precise group behind the strike, but they have already assessed that one of several Iranian-backed groups was involved.
In response to the attack, Iran-backed fighters in east Syria have begun evacuating their posts, fearing further U.S. airstrikes. The areas affected by the evacuations include the strongholds of Mayadeen and Boukamal.
The attack was carried out by a one-way attack drone, and the number of troops injured may rise. The drone struck a base known as Tower 22, located along the Syrian border in Jordan. This base plays a crucial role in the advise-and-assist mission for Jordanian forces and is used by U.S. engineering, aviation, logistics, and security troops.
The U.S. military base at al-Tanf in Syria is located just 20 kilometers north of Tower 22. The Jordanian installation serves as a vital logistical hub for U.S. forces in Syria, particularly those stationed at al-Tanf, which sits near the intersection of the Iraq, Syria, and Jordan borders.
Jordanian state television has confirmed that the attack occurred across the border in Syria, while U.S. Central Command has reported three American troops killed and 25 injured.
Since the start of the Israel-Hamas war, Iranian-backed militias have targeted American military installations in Iraq over 60 times and in Syria over 90 times. Their attacks have involved a variety of weapons, including drones, rockets, mortars, and ballistic missiles. The militias claim that their actions are in retaliation for the U.S.’s support of Israel and aim to remove American forces from the region.
President Biden, who was briefed on the attack, called it a “despicable and wholly unjust” act. He praised the service members for their dedication to the fight against terrorism, stating that the U.S. would not cease its efforts.
Syria and Iraq have long served as launching pads for Iranian-backed forces, including the Lebanese militia Hezbollah. Jordan, a key Western ally, has been suspected of launching airstrikes in Syria to disrupt drug smuggling activities.
While no faction has officially claimed responsibility for the drone attack in Jordan, officials with Iran-backed militias in Iraq have indicated that one of their groups was behind it.
This incident highlights the escalating tensions in the region and the continued threat posed by Iran-backed militias to American forces and their allies. The U.S. will undoubtedly take measures to ensure the safety of its troops and respond to further attacks.