First US Soldiers Killed Since Gaza War Started, Pentagon Announces


The Pentagon in Arlington, Va., on Dec. 26, 2011. (Staff/AFP via Getty Images)

The White House and military officials confirmed Sunday that the first U.S. troops were killed in the Middle East since the start of the Israel–Hamas conflict, with the president vowing to hold those responsible for their deaths responsible.

A statement provided by U.S. Central Command, or CENTCOM, said that three U.S. service members were killed in a drone attack overnight on a small U.S. base in Jordan, the Biden administration said in a statement, blaming Iran-backed groups for their deaths. At least two dozen other troops were injured in the incident, it said.

“As a matter of respect for the families and in accordance with [Department of Defense] policy, the identities of the servicemembers will be withheld until 24 hours after their next of kin have been notified,” the statement said.

President Joe Biden, meanwhile, said his administration will take action against those responsible. So far, no organization or government has claimed responsibility.

“Today, America’s heart is heavy,” he said in a statement Sunday. “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.”

They were the first U.S. fatalities in months of strikes against American forces across the Middle East by Iranian-backed militias amid the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza, increasing the risk of escalation. U.S. officials were still working to conclusively identify the precise group responsible for the attack but have assessed that one of several Iranian-backed groups is responsible.

There was no immediate reaction from Jordan, a kingdom bordering Iraq, Israel, the Palestinian territory of the West Bank, Saudi Arabia, and Syria. Some 3,000 American troops are typically stationed in Jordan.

The president’s statement then accused “radical” groups backed by Iran operating in Iraq and Syria for the attacks, adding that the United States “will hold all those responsible to account at a time and in a manner our choosing,” without providing more details. Then, he called those who died “patriots” and said they were victims of an “unjust attack.”

“Together, we will keep the sacred obligation we bear to their families. We will strive to be worthy of their honor and valor. We will carry on their commitment to fight terrorism,” President Biden said.

Jordanian state television quoted Muhannad Moubaideen, a government spokesman, as insisting the attack happened outside of the kingdom across the border in Syria. The conflicting information could not be immediately verified by The Epoch Times.

Since Hamas targeted Israel in a series of terrorist attacks that left about 1,300 civilians dead on Oct. 7, American troops in Iraq and Syria have faced drone and missile attacks on their bases. The attack on Jordan marks the first targeting of American troops in Jordan during the war.

And Syria, led by longtime strongman and Iran ally Bashar al-Assad, is still in the midst of a civil war and long has been a launch pad for Iranian-backed forces there, including the Lebanese militia Hezbollah, U.S. officials have long said. Iraq has multiple Iranian-backed Shiite militias and terrorist groups operating there as well.

Jordan, a staunch Western ally and a crucial power in Jerusalem for its oversight of holy sites there, is believed to have launched airstrikes in Syria to disrupt drug smugglers, including one that killed nine people earlier this month.

Other Updates

In January, two Navy SEALS were presumed to have died by the U.S. military after going missing during an operation near the coast of Somalia, although few details were provided. Officials said they were attempting to seize Iranian-made weapons that were being sent to the Houthi terrorist group based in Yemen, which has carried out a number of attacks on U.S. military ships and commercial vehicles since the start of the Israel-Gaza conflict.

This weekend, the Houthis attacked another commercial vehicle, targeting a British-linked tanker in the Gulf of Aden, officials said. A fire on the ship was eventually put out.

But UK Defense Secretary Grant Shapps described the attack as “intolerable and illegal,” adding: “It is our duty to protect freedom of navigation in the Red Sea, and we remain as committed to that cause as ever,” according to a post he made on social media.

A spokesperson for the Houthis said that the ship, the Marlin Luanda, belonged to the United Kingdom and had to be attacked due to “American-British aggression against our country,” Yemen. However, both U.S. and UK officials, including CENTCOM, said the attacks targeting commercial vessels have nothing to do with the conflict in Gaza.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

From The Epoch Times


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