Three U.S. soldiers are dead in a drone strike in Jordan

U.S. President Joe Biden walks out of the White House to board Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House on January 27, 2024 in Washington, DC. President Biden is heading to South Carolina for a campaign event. Photo by Samuel Corum/UPI
1 of 3 | U.S. President Joe Biden walks out of the White House to board Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House on January 27, 2024 in Washington, DC. President Biden is heading to South Carolina for a campaign event. Photo by Samuel Corum/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 28 (UPI) -- Three U.S. service members have been killed and at least 34 others injured by a drone strike in the Kingdom of Jordan, Biden administration and military officials said.

The three dead soldiers are the first U.S. military casualties tied to the regional escalation of the ongoing war between Hamas and Israel in the wake of the Iran proxy militia's surprise attack on the Middle Eastern country that killed 1,200 people on Oct. 7.


"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," President Joe Biden said in a statement released Sunday by the White House.

"These service members embodied the very best of our nation: Unwavering in their bravery," Biden continued. "Unflinching in their duty. Unbending in their commitment to our country -- risking their own safety for the safety of their fellow Americans, and our allies and partners with whom we stand in the fight against terrorism. It is a fight we will not cease."


During a political event Sunday afternoon in Columbia, S.C., Biden called the deceased "brave souls" and held those gathered in a moment of silence.

"We will respond," he vowed.

U.S. Central Command identified the munition in a statement as a one-way attack aerial system, stating it hit a U.S. logistics support base at Tower 22 of the Jordanian Defense Network in northeastern Jordan near the Syrian border, where there are some 350 U.S. troops stationed in support of coalition forces' mission to defeat the Islamic State.

The number of injured has climbed from an initial 25 to 34, but CENTCOM officials warn that the figure is expected to "fluctuate" as service members seek additional medical services.

Eight of the injured were evacuated out of Jordan as they require what CENTCOM said was "higher level of care" but were in stable condition.

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a statement that he is "outraged and deeply saddened" by the deaths and wounding of the U.S. service members, while vowing that he and Biden "will take all necessary actions to defend the United States, our troops and our interests."

Jordan also condemned the attack, the kingdom's minister of government communications, Muhannad Mubaidin, said in a statement carried by public broadcaster Jordan TV.


The escalation comes as U.S. service members in the Middle East have come under increased attacks by Iran-backed militias in Syria, Iraq and Yemen amid Israel's war against Hamas. Since the war began, U.S. troops stationed in the region have weathered at least 150 such attacks.

A week ago, on Jan. 20, four service members were injured in an attack on the al-Asad Airbase in western Iraq.

Two Navy SEALs were also declared dead Jan. 21 after they disappeared 10 days earlier during an operation in the Red Sea to intercept weapons from Iran that were heading to Houthi rebels, another Iran proxy militia.

The United States has responded to the aggression with targeted retaliatory airstrikes officials have framed as defense deterrents aimed at degrading the militias' abilities to attack U.S. services members. The Biden administration has repeatedly said that it does not want to deepen its involvement in the conflict.

Following the attack Sunday, some Republican politicians are calling for a more stringent response.

"America must send a crystal clear message across the globe that attacks on our troops will not be tolerated," House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., said in a statement on X.


House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul, R-Texas, said it was time for a "major reset" to the United States' Middle East policy.

"The Biden administration's failed Middle East policy has destroyed our deterrence against adversaries," he said in a statement.

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, responded to the attack with: "Target Tehran."

This sentiment was shared by Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who called on Biden in a statement on X to "strike targets of significance inside Iran, not only as reprisal for the killing of our forces but as deterrence against future aggression."

"Hit Iran now," he said. "Hit them hard."

Biden said in his statement that his administration's focus will remain on bringing justice and peace to the region, reflecting on the soldiers who were killed in the drone strike.

"We will carry on their commitment to fight terrorism," Biden warned. "And have no doubt, we will hold all those responsible to account at a time and in a manner our choosing."

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