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20 July, 2024
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Iran-backed attack claims lives of three US service members

Biden's inaction sparks outcry amidst US casualties


In a tragic development, three U.S. service members lost their lives, with at least 34 others wounded, in a devastating drone attack orchestrated by Iran-backed militants on U.S. troops stationed in northeastern Jordan, close to the Syrian border.

According to a report on Reuters, President Joe Biden, along with U.S. officials, confirmed this harrowing incident on Sunday, marking the first lethal strike against U.S. forces since the eruption of the Israel-Hamas conflict in October and intensifying tensions across the Middle East.

"While we are still piecing together the details of this attack, we have concrete evidence that it was perpetrated by radical Iran-backed militant factions operating in Syria and Iraq," affirmed President Biden in a solemn statement. "Rest assured, we will hold all those responsible accountable, in due time and by means of our choosing," he vowed.

Contrary to these assertions, Iran's mission to the United Nations vehemently denied any involvement in the assault. In a statement published by the state news agency IRNA, the mission stated, "Iran bears no responsibility and is unconnected to the attack on the U.S. base." It further elaborated, "The ongoing conflict between U.S. forces and resistance groups in the region has engendered retaliatory measures." Biden, during a campaign event in South Carolina, observed a moment of silence for the fallen service members and declared, "We will respond."

Echoing the president's sentiments, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin issued a stern warning, affirming that the United States would retaliate against the perpetrators. Earlier, senior officials briefed President Biden on the attack.

According to a statement from U.S. Central Command, the assault resulted in at least 34 personnel sustaining injuries, although this figure is expected to fluctuate as more individuals seek medical attention. Eight personnel were evacuated from Jordan for advanced medical care, but their conditions remain stable.

Sources revealed that the drone struck near the barracks in the early hours, possibly accounting for the significant casualty count. The Islamic Resistance in Iraq, an amalgamation of hardline Iran-backed militant factions, claimed responsibility for attacks on three bases, including the one along the Jordan-Syria border.

This egregious attack amplifies apprehensions of broader conflict in the Middle East, already reeling from the Gaza conflict triggered by Hamas' assault on Israel in October. Since then, U.S. forces have endured over 150 attacks by Iran-backed groups in Iraq and Syria, resulting in at least 70 casualties prior to Sunday's assault, predominantly traumatic brain injuries.

Additionally, U.S. warships have faced hostile actions from Iran-backed Houthi forces in Yemen, targeting commercial vessels navigating Red Sea waters off Yemen's coast.

Despite maintaining an official stance that Washington is not engaged in regional warfare, the United States has retaliated against Iran-backed groups in Iraq and Syria, and has conducted strikes targeting Yemen's Houthi military capabilities.

The attack has placed President Biden under mounting pressure from Republican opponents, who lambasted his administration's failure to confront Iran amid escalating attacks by its proxies against U.S. forces in the region.

Republican Senator Tom Cotton asserted, "The only fitting response to these assaults is decisive military retaliation against Iran's terrorist proxies. Anything less would validate Joe Biden's timidity."

U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell criticized Biden's perceived inaction, warning that it emboldened adversaries in the Middle East.

A senior official from the Iran-backed Palestinian militant group Hamas, Sami Abu Zuhri, linked the attack to Israel's campaign in Gaza, cautioning that continued American-Zionist aggression could further destabilize the region.

Although the specific base targeted in northeastern Jordan remains unnamed by U.S. military officials, heightened tensions stemming from the Israel-Hamas conflict have underscored the sensitivity surrounding U.S. military operations in Jordan.

The Jordanian government confirmed the attack occurred at an "advanced post" along its border with Syria. Late last year, Amman requested additional aid from Washington to bolster its border defenses, including deploying Patriot air defense systems and addressing the escalating drone threat from southern Syria, allegedly fueled by pro-Iranian militias.

Amid these challenges, Jordan maintains a significant presence of U.S. trainers and conducts extensive joint exercises with U.S. troops throughout the year, underscoring the strategic partnership between the two nations.

[With information sourced from Reuters]

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