'We Shall Respond': 3 US Soldiers Killed in Suspected Iran-Sponsored Drone Strike

A drone attack on a U.S. airbase in Jordan near the Syrian border on Sunday killed three troops. Iran has denied involvement.
A U.S. tank driving through north eastern Syria in 2023. Photo: Delil Souleiman/AFP/via Getty.

Iran has denied playing a direct role in a drone attack on a U.S. base in Jordan that killed three Americans.

The attack on Sunday, the first deadly attack on American forces in the region since October 7, was claimed to be the work of Iranian-backed militias based in Iraq.

“Iran had no connection and had nothing to do with the attack on the US base,” said a statement attributed to the Iran mission to the UN. “There is a conflict between US forces and resistance groups in the region, which reciprocate retaliatory attacks.”


Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani also issued a statement implying that the U.S. military presence in Syria and Iraq – where more than 3,000 US troops remain to fight the Islamic State – represented a violation of national sovereignty and was drawing a response from local forces.

The deaths of U.S. troops while based in Jordan, a close American ally, enraged the Biden administration with the U.S. president promising significant retaliation, during a campaign stop in South Carolina. In addition to the three deaths, 34 military personnel were wounded and eight required evacuation to medical facilities outside the region, according to a Pentagon statement. 

“We had a tough day last night in the Middle East,” Biden said. “And we shall respond.”

The drone attack on a small U.S. base called Tower 22 - located along the border between Jordan and Syria, marked the first deaths since multiple small-scale attacks targeting U.S. facilities in the region by Iranian allied militias in Iraq and Syria. 

The roughly 350 military personnel at Tower 22 support a nearby U.S. special operations base inside Syria intended to disrupt the flow of Iranian weapons smuggled by their allies from Iraq to Syria and Lebanon. 

Sunday’s attack was claimed by an umbrella group of Iranian-armed and trained militias that fight alongside the Syrian regime and Lebanon’s Hezbollah. 


Iran’s Shiite Muslim proxies and allies in Iraq have long opposed any remaining presence of U.S. troops in the country and frequently have targeted bases in Kurdistan, Iraq and Syria, but this is the first such attack on a U.S. base in Jordan. 

“This significantly raises the temperature in the region,” said a regional diplomat who declined to be named on the record. “The fear had been Americans getting killed in an attack on a base in Syria or Iraq. For it to happen in Jordan is an intentional escalation and could force Biden into a more aggressive posture than he would prefer.”

Since the October 7 attacks on Israel from Gaza by Iran’s ally Hamas, the Biden administration has tried to prevent a wider conflict from erupting in the region, including convincing Israel in the aftermath of the attacks to refrain from retaliating against key Hamas ally Hezbollah.

But Biden has met with less success convincing Israel to reduce civilian casualties – more than 26,000 civilians have died - in its invasion of the coastal strip of 2 million people. 

The ongoing operation has also spurred near daily attacks on international shipping in the Red Sea by Yemen’s Houthi movement, an ally of Hamas and Iran, leading U.S. and U.K. forces to strike Houthi targets, while Lebanese Hezbollah and Israel exchange daily fire over the UN demarcated border.