The United States on Wednesday attributed the drone attack that killed three U.S. service members in Jordan to the Islamic Resistance in Iraq, an umbrella group of Iran-backed militias, as President Joe Biden weighs his response options to the strike.
The attribution comes as Iran threatened on Wednesday to “decisively respond” to any U.S. attack on the Islamic Republic after the U.S. said it holds Tehran responsible. The U.S. has signaled it is preparing for retaliatory strikes in the Mideast in the wake of the Sunday drone attack that also wounded at least 40 troops at Tower 22, a secretive base in northeastern Jordan that’s been crucial to the American presence in neighboring Syria.
National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said Wednesday the U.S. believes the attack was planned, resourced and facilitated by the Islamic Resistance in Iraq, an umbrella group that includes the militant group Kataib Hezbollah. He said Biden “believes that it is important to respond in an appropriate way.”
Kirby said Biden was continuing to weigh retaliation options to the attack but said “the first thing you see won’t be the last thing," adding it “won't be a one-off.”
Kirby dismissed a statement by Iraqi militia Kataib Hezbollah announcing “the suspension of military and security operations against the occupation forces in order to prevent embarrassment to the Iraqi government.” He said that the group can't be taken at face value, and he added, “they’re not the only group that has been attacking us.”
Any additional American strikes could further inflame a region already roiled by Israel’s ongoing war on Hamas in the Gaza Strip. The war began with Hamas attacking Israel on Oct. 7, killing some 1,200 people and taking about 250 hostage. Since then, Israeli strikes have killed more than 26,000 Palestinians and displaced nearly 2 million others from their homes, arousing anger throughout the Muslim world.
Violence has erupted across the Mideast, with Iran striking targets in Iraq, Pakistan and Syria, and the U.S. carrying out airstrikes targeting Yemen's Houthi rebels over their attacks on shipping in the Red Sea. Some observers fear a new round of strikes targeting Iran could tip the region into a wider war.
A U.S. Navy destroyer in the waterway shot down an anti-ship cruise missile launched by the Houthis late Tuesday, the latest attack targeting American forces patrolling the key maritime trade route, officials said. The U.S. later launched a new round of airstrikes targeting the Houthis.
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