The confusion of an enemy drone with one of its own which was returning to base at that time appears to have been the factor that enabled the attack on an American position in northeastern Jordan this Sunday, in during which three American soldiers and 40 others were killed. They were injured, according to military commanders. This incident, the first in which American soldiers were killed in a hostile act since the start of the war between Israel and Hamas on October 7, increases pressure on Joe Biden as attacks by pro-Iranian militias increase. in the Middle East and the risk of regional conflicts is increasing. the escalation seems greater than ever.
According to the American commanders’ version, the return of the American drone to Tower 22, the attacked outpost near the border with Syria, caused confusion among those responsible for air defense systems, who did not know whether the The approaching device was sound. The doubt led to delays in activating defense systems. Two other unmanned aircraft attacking other U.S. positions were shot down without causing damage, commanders said.
The militia drone attacked the barracks that serve as a residential area within the base, where 350 U.S. troops are stationed. Many of them were asleep at the time. Besides the three deaths, forty other personnel were injured in the incident.
This Monday, Biden met with his national security team at the White House to discuss the situation after the attack in northeastern Jordan, already close to the border with Syria. Participants included National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines, according to the presidential office.
The coalition of pro-Iranian militias in Syria and Iraq known as the Islamic Resistance in Iraq (IRI) said on Sunday it had attacked three US positions in Jordan, including the Tower 22 base. Iran, which denied any involvement in the attack by American forces described the incident as part of clashes between the United States and “resistance groups in the region”.
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At the White House press conference, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby declined to confirm that the incident was due to mistaken identification. He assured, as Biden himself had done the day before, that the United States would respond to the attack: “We are not seeking war with Iran. We don’t want escalation. But this weekend’s attack is an escalation, there is no doubt about it, and it requires a response.” This response, he stressed, will occur: “at the time and place we choose”.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who returned to his office at the Pentagon on Monday after recovering from complications from the cancer he is suffering from, spoke along the same lines. “Neither the president nor I will tolerate attacks against American forces and we will take any action necessary to defend the United States and our troops,” he declared at the start of a meeting with the secretary general of the NATO, Jens Stoltenberg.
In retaliation, the White House and Pentagon face a problem that has surrounded them since the start of the crisis: how to respond with enough force to prevent a repeat of the attacks and, at the same time, with enough moderation to avoid escalation. . unpredictable consequences.
The numbers speak. Since the start of the war between Israel and Hamas on October 7, American forces have been the target of more than 150 attacks, for which Washington blames pro-Iranian groups, in more and more regions of the Middle East, Houthi missile launches from Yemen into the Red Sea region for drone attacks against its positions in Iraq and Syria. Added to this are thirty other attacks by the Houthis against merchant ships.
Until now, the Biden administration had responded with relative restraint to the blows carried out by these militias. In Yemen, American strikes, alone or in coordination with British forces, have been limited to the destruction of rebel radar or missile sites. Its retaliatory military actions in Syria also had similar objectives. Time and again, Washington has insisted that it sees no signs that Iran would have an interest in becoming directly involved in the conflict.
Many analysts view Washington’s response after the latest aggression as inevitable, but warn of the consequences. The United States “must respond forcefully to this attack,” said William Wechsler, former undersecretary of Defense and currently in office. thinking group Atlantic Council. But it must ensure that its reaction “minimizes the risk of provoking a wider regional war or forcing the Iraqi government to demand the withdrawal of American troops” which still remain stationed on its territory and over whose future the two governments negotiate. .
Among the options considered at the Pentagon, experts highlight the seizure of Iranian assets, particularly ships; attack Iranian forces outside or inside that country, or continue its relatively mild attacks against pro-Iranian militias.
If until now Biden has resisted a direct blow against Tehran, faced with the risk of regional escalation, Republican voices are calling for an attack against Iranian territory.
On X, the old Twitter, Senator John Cornyn called for “putting Tehran in the spotlight.” He later clarified that he was calling for attacks on Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. “Attack Iran now. “Attack them hard,” urged Sen. Lindsey Graham; Senator Tom Cotton said “the only response to these attacks must be devastating military retaliation against Iranian terrorist forces, both in Iran and throughout the Middle East.” “Less than that will confirm Joe Biden as a coward who does not deserve to be the (American) commander in chief,” he said.
On his social network Truth Social, former president and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said: “We are on the brink of World War III. » For Trump, Sunday’s attack constitutes a “tragic and horrible consequence of Joe Biden’s weakness and capitulation”, although he did not call for a specific American response.
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