Three United States service members were killed and 25 wounded by an Unmanned Aerial System attack on a base in Jordan, near the border with Syria, by Iranian-backed militias, the United States Central Command and White House announced.
President Joe Biden confirmed that Iranian-backed militias operating in Iraq or Syria were behind the attack, which occurred Saturday night. The attack marks a major escalation, being the first U.S. service members to be killed by the Iranian-backed militias since they began their attacks following the beginning of the Israel-Hamas War.
The deaths also mark the first U.S. service members killed in action since the 2021 Kabul airport bombing, according to the Defense Casualty Analysis System.
“Today, America’s heart is heavy,” Biden said in a statement. “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. 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.”
He extended his condolences to the families of the victims of the “wholly unjust attack,” and vowed that the fight against terrorists “will never cease.”
“The three American service members we lost were patriots in the highest sense,” Biden said. “And their ultimate sacrifice will never be forgotten by our nation. Together, we will keep the sacred obligation we bear to their families. 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.”
CENTCOM said that per its policy, the identities of the casualties would be withheld for 24 hours.
The attack took place at Tower 22, a small outpost in Jordan that serves to support the Al-Tanf base in southeast Syria, according to CNN. Al-Tanf is surrounded by Area 55, a buffer zone meant to protect the base. Area 55 is one of the two areas of deployment of U.S. troops in Syria. The Iranian-backed attack is also notable as it did not take place in Syria or Iraq.