TAMPA, Fla. — Three U.S. troops were killed and more than 30 were injured when a drone packed with explosives struck a base in northeast Jordan, near the Syria border.
They are the first U.S. deaths in months of strikes by Iranian-backed militant groups since the Israel-Hamas war started Oct. 7. The troops have not been identified pending notification of next of kin.
The drone made impact near a shelter where some troops were sleeping, according to two U.S. officials. Some of the injured had to be airlifted to the hospital.
It’s not clear whether all of the injured troops were members of the Army or other services.
In a statement in the immediate aftermath, President Joe Biden said the troops were killed by “radical Iran-backed militant groups operating in Syria and Iraq,” adding that “we are still gathering the facts of this attack.”
“Today, America’s heart is heavy,” Biden said. “Last night, three U.S. service members were killed — and many wounded — during an unmanned aerial drone attack on our forces stationed in northeast Jordan near the Syria border.”
Biden asked for a moment of silence for the “three brave souls” during an event on Sunday at a church in South Carolina.
“We shall respond,” he said.
The Islamic Resistance in Iraq released a statement Sunday taking credit for four drone attacks on Al-Shaddadi Base in Syria and the Al-Rukban and Al-Tanf bases at the Syria-Jordan border. The fourth attack was on the Zevulun naval facility in Israel.
It’s not clear if the Islamic Resistance in Iraq is responsible for the deaths of the three U.S. troops.
Biden said the three service members “were patriots in the highest sense.”
“We will strive to be worthy of their honor and valor. We will carry on their commitment to fight terrorism. And have no doubt — we will hold all those responsible to account at a time and in a manner our choosing,” Biden said.
U.S. lawmakers quickly responded, many saying they were devastated by the deaths and some pressing Biden to take action against Iran for backing the militia that launched the deadly strike.
Cornyn, R-Texas, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, tweeted a link to a news article about the attack and added two words: “Target Tehran.”
Graham, R-S.C., who is known for his hawkish foreign policy views, tweeted: “Hit Iran now. Hit them hard.”
In a series of posts on X, Graham also lambasted the Biden administration for what he characterized as a failed policy toward Iran.
“When the Biden Administration says ‘don’t,’ the Iranians ‘do’. The Biden Administration’s rhetoric is falling on deaf ears in Iran,” Graham wrote. “Their policy of deterrence against Iran has failed miserably.”
Rep. Nick Langworthy, R-N.Y., said on X: “This is heartbreaking news — my prayers are with the families of these brave service members. President Biden must immediately hold Iran accountable for their terrorist proxies and reverse any standing sanctions waivers. This is the cost of weak leadership on the world stage.”
Rep. Rubén Gallego, D-Ariz., who is running for the Senate, said the U.S. government could not afford to “stand idle to terrorism.”
“I am grieving for the families of the three service members killed in Jordan,” Gallego said in an emailed statement. “The attack carried out by Iranian-backed militants is a heinous escalation, and it must not go unpunished.
“We cannot stand idle to terrorism,” Gallego added. “I am committed to providing the administration the needed resources to protect our troops in the region and hold Iran accountable.”