In response to a drone attack that killed three American service members in Jordan, the United States is planning a multi-day response that will target multiple facilities linked to the attacks, according to a US official speaking on condition of anonymity. The official emphasized that the strikes would be deliberate and aimed at facilities that enabled the attacks on US forces. The official did not disclose whether any of the targets would be located inside or outside of Iran.
President Joe Biden confirmed that he had made a decision on how the US would respond to the attack, but did not provide further details. When asked about Iran's responsibility, Biden stated that Tehran was arming proxy groups involved in the attacks. However, he also made it clear that the US was not seeking a wider war in the Middle East.
Details surrounding how the enemy attack drone was able to reach the remote US military base in Jordan are still emerging, as the military continues its investigation. According to three officials, the enemy drone approached the base at the same time as a US surveillance drone, which caused confusion and prevented the deployment of air defenses. The attack occurred in the early morning while troops were sleeping, resulting in the death of three soldiers and the injury of at least 40 others.
This attack marks a significant escalation in the ongoing tensions between Iran-backed militants and US forces stationed in Iraq and Syria. Since mid-October, there have been at least 165 attacks on US troops in these regions, prompting several retaliatory strikes by the US.
The US response to this latest attack is seen as a crucial decision for President Biden. While some Republicans have called for a more direct attack on Iran, officials have not disclosed the specific targets or whether Iranian officials would be directly targeted.
Gen. Robert Abrams, a retired combatant commander, highlighted the challenge facing Biden in sending a message without further escalating tensions. He stated that there were ongoing discussions between the Pentagon, CENTCOM, and the White House to determine the best course of action.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken emphasized that the US response would be multi-leveled, staged, and sustained over time. He also reiterated that the US would respond decisively to any aggression and hold those responsible for the attacks accountable.