Three US Troops Killed in Drone Strike Linked to Iran 

Satellite view of the US military outpost known as Tower 22, in Rukban, Rwaished District, Jordan October 12, 2023 in this handout image. (Planet Labs PBC/Handout via Reuters)
Satellite view of the US military outpost known as Tower 22, in Rukban, Rwaished District, Jordan October 12, 2023 in this handout image. (Planet Labs PBC/Handout via Reuters)
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Three US Troops Killed in Drone Strike Linked to Iran 

Satellite view of the US military outpost known as Tower 22, in Rukban, Rwaished District, Jordan October 12, 2023 in this handout image. (Planet Labs PBC/Handout via Reuters)
Satellite view of the US military outpost known as Tower 22, in Rukban, Rwaished District, Jordan October 12, 2023 in this handout image. (Planet Labs PBC/Handout via Reuters)

Three US service members were killed and at least 34 wounded in a drone attack by Iran-backed militants on US troops on the Syrian-Jordanian border, President Joe Biden and US officials said on Sunday.   

It is the first deadly strike against US forces since the Israel-Hamas war erupted in October, and marks a major escalation in tensions that have engulfed the Middle East.   

"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.   

"Have no doubt - we will hold all those responsible to account at a time and in a manner of our choosing," he said.   

Iran's mission to the United Nations said in a statement on Monday that Tehran was not involved in the attack.   

"Iran had no connection and had nothing to do with the attack on the US base," the mission said in a statement published by the state news agency IRNA.   

It added: "There is a conflict between US forces and resistance groups in the region, which reciprocate retaliatory attacks."   

Biden asked for a moment of silence for the three killed service members during a campaign event in South Carolina, adding: "We shall respond."   

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin echoed that threat. He and other senior officials briefed Biden earlier in the day on the attack.   

At least 34 personnel were injured in the attack, but that number is expected to change as more people seek care, according to a statement from US Central Command. Eight personnel were evacuated from Jordan for higher level care, but are in stable condition.   

Two US officials said the drone struck near the barracks early in the morning, which could explain the high number of casualties.   

The “Islamic Resistance in Iraq”, an umbrella organization of hardline Iran-backed militant groups, claimed attacks on three bases, including one on the Syria-Jordan border.   

The attack is likely to fan fears of wider conflict in the Middle East, where war broke out in Gaza after Palestinian group Hamas' attack on Israel on Oct. 7 which killed 1,200. Israel's subsequent assault on Gaza has killed over 26,000 Palestinians, according to the local health ministry.   

Since then, US forces have come under attack more than 150 times by Iran-backed groups in Iraq and Syria, causing at least 70 casualties prior to Sunday's attack, most of them traumatic brain injuries.   

US warships have also been fired at by Iran-backed Houthi militias in Yemen, who are regularly attacking commercial ships passing through Red Sea waters off Yemen's coast.   

While the United States has thus far maintained an official line that Washington is not at war in the region, it has been retaliating against the Iran-backed groups in Iraq and Syria and carrying out strikes against Yemen's Houthi military capabilities.   

Biden pressured on Iran   

Republican opponents of Biden seized on the attack as evidence of the Democratic president's failure to confront Iran as its proxies strike against US forces across the region.   

"The only answer to these attacks must be devastating military retaliation against Iran’s terrorist forces ... Anything less will confirm Joe Biden as a coward," said Republican Senator Tom Cotton in a statement.   

US Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said Biden's inaction was emboldening enemies of the United States in the Middle East.   

"The time to start taking this aggression seriously was long before more brave Americans lost their lives," McConnell said.   

A senior official with the Iran-backed Hamas, Sami Abu Zuhri, directly tied the attack to Israel's campaign in Gaza.   

"The killing of three American soldiers is a message to the US administration that unless the killing of innocents in Gaza stops, it must confront the entire nation," he told Reuters.   

"The continued American-Zionist aggression on Gaza is capable of exploding the situation in the region."  

The US military said the attack occurred near the Syrian border.  

The Jordanian government said the attack occurred at an "advanced post" along its border with Syria.   



Israeli Forces Pull Back after Gaza City Offensive, Leaving Dozens of Bodies

Palestinians gather as they inspect the damages after Israeli forces withdrew from a part of Gaza City, following a ground operation, amid the Israel-Hamas conflict, in Gaza City, July 12, 2024. REUTERS/Dawoud Abu Alkas
Palestinians gather as they inspect the damages after Israeli forces withdrew from a part of Gaza City, following a ground operation, amid the Israel-Hamas conflict, in Gaza City, July 12, 2024. REUTERS/Dawoud Abu Alkas
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Israeli Forces Pull Back after Gaza City Offensive, Leaving Dozens of Bodies

Palestinians gather as they inspect the damages after Israeli forces withdrew from a part of Gaza City, following a ground operation, amid the Israel-Hamas conflict, in Gaza City, July 12, 2024. REUTERS/Dawoud Abu Alkas
Palestinians gather as they inspect the damages after Israeli forces withdrew from a part of Gaza City, following a ground operation, amid the Israel-Hamas conflict, in Gaza City, July 12, 2024. REUTERS/Dawoud Abu Alkas

Israeli forces retreated from some Gaza City districts overnight after a fierce, week-long military offensive, leaving dozens of dead and wrecked homes and roads in the Palestinian enclave's biggest urban area, residents and rescue service said on Friday.

The offensive, 10 months into Israel's campaign to eliminate Hamas militants, took place as US-backed mediators sought to finalize a peace deal that would free remaining hostages taken by the militants in their cross-border rampage on Oct. 7.

According to Reuters, the Gaza Civil Emergency Service said teams had collected around 60 bodies of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces over the past week from the area of Tel Al-Hawa and the edges of the Sabra neighborhood in Gaza City.

Both residents and rescue teams cautioned that while tanks withdrew from some areas, Israeli snipers and tanks continued to control high ground at some locations, and warned residents against trying to return to their homes in those areas.

"There are bodies scattered in the streets, dismembered bodies, there are bodies of entire families, there are also bodies inside a home of an entire family that was completely burned," Gaza Strip Civil Defense spokesperson Mahmoud Basal said in comments carried by media in Hamas-run Gaza.

The Israeli military had said on Thursday that its forces were working to dismantle Hamas capabilities in Gaza City, and that it "follows international law and takes feasible precautions to mitigate civilian harm." It said the same was not true of Hamas.

The armed wings of Hamas and the Islamic Jihad said they had fought fierce battles against Israeli forces, attacking them with anti-tank rockets and mortar fire, killing and wounding many. There has been no Israeli army comment on those claims.

Home to more than a quarter of Gaza's residents before the war, Gaza City was largely razed to the ground in late 2023, but hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have returned to homes in the ruins. Israel has once again ordered them out, though it is unclear where residents can go safely. Israel controls most of Gaza's borders and is also attacking central and southern Gaza.