'We shall respond' warns Joe Biden as three US service members killed and at least 34 wounded in drone attack on US forces in Jordan

Monday 29 January 2024

Three US service members were killed and at least 34 wounded in a drone attack by Iran-backed militants on US troops in northeastern Jordan near the Syrian border, President Joe Biden and US officials said on Sunday.

It is the first deadly strike against US forces since the Israel-Hamas war started in October, and marks a major escalation in tensions that have engulfed the Middle East.

The US President said: "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

"Have no doubt - we will hold all those responsible to account at a time and in a manner of our choosing."

Rishi Sunak has urged Iran to de-escalate tensions in the Middle East after three US troops were killed in a drone strike on a US base in Jordan.

Speaking to broadcasters on a trip to the north-east, the Prime Minister said: “We are concerned and would urge Iran to continue to de-escalate tensions in the region.

“We absolutely condemn what has happened over the past couple of days. My thoughts are with all of those impacted, those who lost their lives, their families and those that are injured.

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“We stand resolutely with our allies to bring stability and peace to the region. And that’s what we’ll continue to work towards.”

Iran's mission to the United Nations said in a statement on Monday that Tehran was not involved in the attack.

"Iran had no connection and had nothing to do with the attack on the US base," the mission said in a statement published by the state news agency IRNA.

It added: "There is a conflict between US forces and resistance groups in the region, which reciprocate retaliatory attacks."

Biden asked for a moment of silence for the three killed service members during a campaign event in South Carolina, adding: "We shall respond."

US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin echoed that threat. He and other senior officials briefed Biden earlier in the day on the attack.

At least 34 personnel were injured in the attack, but that number is expected to change as more people seek care, according to a statement from US Central Command. Eight personnel were evacuated from Jordan for higher level care, but are in stable condition.

Two US officials said the drone struck near the barracks early in the morning, which could explain the high number of casualties.

The Islamic Resistance in Iraq, an umbrella organisation of hardline Iran-backed militant groups, claimed attacks on three bases, including one on the Jordan-Syria border.

Speaking to TalkTV's Nicola Thorp, MP for Bournemouth East Tobias Ellwood said: "This is one example of many of the new era of insecurity that we've entered, and we need to prepare for.

"That's why there's been so much discussion about the size and complexion of our armed forces.

"Escalation and expanding of this Middle Eastern instability is on the cars, more and more nations have been brought into this, including non state actors, as well.

"I don't think either nation wants to ratchet it up to full scale war, but when nobody is in control of events, that's a danger point.

"This does affect Britain, we need to make that very, very clear. This isn't an operation of choice. It's a necessity because our economy is increasingly being affected by instability in the Middle East."