President Joe Biden said Tuesday that he has made a decision on how to respond to the drone attack that killed three U.S. soldiers and injured dozens of others at a base in northeast Jordan.
As Biden departed the White House on Tuesday morning, a reporter asked him whether he had made a decision in response to the attack by Iran-backed militants Sunday. He replied, “Yes.”
Biden vowed Sunday to retaliate and “hold all those responsible to account at a time and in a manner [of] our choosing” for the deadly attack, which injured more than 30 soldiers.
Asked whether he holds Iran responsible for the attack, he said he does “in the sense that they’re supplying the weapons to the people who did it.”
The attack led to the first U.S. deaths at the hands of Iranian-back militant groups since the Israel-Hamas war began Oct. 7. The explosives-laden drone blew up near a shelter where some troops slept at a logistics support base in northeast Jordan, two U.S. officials told NBC News. Eight of the injured were evacuated from the country to receive higher-level care and are stable, U.S. Central Command said Sunday.
Iran’s mission to the United Nations denied the country’s involvement in the drone strike.
“Iran had no connection and had nothing to do with the attack on the U.S. base,” the mission said in a statement Monday published by the state news agency IRNA, Reuters reported.
“There is a conflict between U.S. forces and resistance groups in the region, which reciprocate retaliatory attacks,” it added.
In a statement Sunday, the Islamic Resistance in Iraq claimed responsibility for drone attacks on Al-Shaddadi base in Syria, Al-Rukban and Al-Tanf bases at the Syria-Jordan border and the Zevulun naval facility in Israel. It is unclear whether the Islamic Resistance in Iraq is responsible for the attack on U.S. troops in Jordan.
Biden spoke to the families of the service members who were killed Sunday and will attend the transfer of their bodies in Dover, Delaware, on Friday, National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby told reporters on Air Force One.
Biden told the families that he “was grateful for their time,” Kirby said. “He expressed to them how proud we all are of their service, how we mourn and feel sorrow over their loss, made sure that those families knew that not only was that service and sacrifice going to be honored and respected but that they would continue to get the support that they need as they work through what no family wants to have to go through.”
“No blue star family wants to become a Gold Star family,” he added.
In initial remarks about the attack, Biden asked for a moment of silence at a South Carolina church event for the “three brave souls” who died.
“We shall respond,” Biden said.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said the U.S. response to the attack could be “multileveled” and “come in stages and be sustained over time.”
“We will respond. We will respond strongly. We will respond at a time and place of our choosing,” Blinken said at a joint news conference with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.
Kirby said Monday that Biden was working through his options for retaliation and stressed that the administration doesn’t “want a wider war with Iran.” Kirby added that the U.S. knew Tehran was backing militant groups in the region.
“We know that they are resourcing, they’re supplying in some cases, they’re providing information that allows these groups to do this,” Kirby said Monday morning in an interview on NBC’s “TODAY” show.
“We’re taking that very seriously. We don’t want a wider war with Iran. We don’t want a wider war in the region, but we’ve got to do what we have to do,” he added.
Members of the House and the Senate are expected to receive classified briefings on the deadly attack this week.
The Biden administration ordered airstrikes this month on Houthi rebels in Yemen who have launched attacks on ships in the Red Sea, as well as on other Iran-affiliated militia groups that have targeted their attacks on U.S. personnel and facilities in Iraq and Syria.
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have demanded that Biden ask Congress to vote on a new authorization for the use of military force before he takes further action.