The United States military announced that three US soldiers were killed and at least 34 were wounded in a drone attack targeting Tower 22, a remote logistics outpost near the Jordan-Syrian border.
It is the first time US soldiers have been killed by strikes in the region after Hamas’s 7 October attack on Israel sparked the war in Gaza.
The US says it will take “all necessary actions” to protect troops after a drone attack on a base in Jordan killed three American soldiers, with President Joe Biden blaming Iran-backed militants.
The US says its response “will come at a time and place of its choosing”.
The Islamic Resistance in Iraq, an umbrella group of Iran-backed armed groups in the region, claimed the attacks, saying it was in response to US support to Israel’s war on Gaza, which has killed more than 26,000 people.
The US military base, which became known as Tower 22, was supposed to remain secret, and neither Jordan nor the US would disclose its presence inside Jordanian territory.
But after it was targeted by a drone over the weekend, the Pentagon has been forced for the first time to reveal the location of the base, established in 2016.
According to media reports, Tower 22 serves as a supply hub for the nearby US garrison of al-Tanf located across the border in Syria.
At least 350 US Army and Air Force soldiers are also stationed there. It is unclear what type of weapons are kept at the outpost and the nature of air defenses used.
Al-Tanf, located on the Baghdad-Damascus highway, had been key in the fight against the ISIL (ISIS) armed group and has assumed a role as part of a US strategy to contain Iran’s military build-up in eastern Syria.
A US defense official said the attack drone approached “low and slow” at the same time a US drone was due to return from a mission, meaning defenses were down and there was little warning.
The US military said that at least eight of the wounded soldiers were flown out of Jordan for treatment.
President Biden said he will hold those responsible to account.
“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,” Biden said in a statement.
Iran has denied it was behind the attack. “Iran had no connection and had nothing to do with the attack on the US base,” Tehran’s mission to the United Nations said in a statement on Monday published by the state news agency IRNA.
“There is a conflict between US forces and resistance groups in the region, which reciprocate retaliatory attacks.”
US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin said the Biden administration will take “all necessary actions” to defend US troops.
He also expressed his “outrage and sorrow [for] the deaths of three brave US troops in Jordan and for the other troops who were wounded”.
“The president and I will not tolerate attacks on US forces and we will take all necessary actions to defend the US and our troops,” he told reporters at the Pentagon.
US President Joe Biden’s Republican rivals for the presidency, Donald Trump and Nikki Haley, have called the attack an example of the elder statesman’s “weakness”.
Trump, the Republican front-runner, said it “marks a horrible day for America” and “this brazen attack on the United States is yet another horrific and tragic consequence of Joe Biden’s weakness and surrender”.
Haley, former UN ambassador, asked on X, formerly known as Twitter: “Why is Biden still refusing to enforce sanctions on Iran? We have to drain every dollar to stop Iran’s terrorism.”
White House confirmed that President Joe Biden met with members of his national security team earlier today to discuss the attack in Jordan.
Among those present were national security adviser Jake Sullivan, Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin, director of national intelligence Avril Haines, and Brett McGurk, the National Security Council’s coordinator for the Middle East.