Pentagon says it is not seeking war with Iran after attack on Jordan By Reuters

©Reuters. U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin holds a bilateral meeting with NATO Secretary Jens Stoltenberg at the Pentagon in Washington, U.S., January 29, 2024. REUTERS/Leah Millis

By Idrees Ali and Phil Stewart

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin vowed on Monday that the United States would take “all necessary actions” to defend its troops after a deadly drone attack in Jordan by Iranian-backed militants, even if President Joe Biden’s administration stressed that it was not seeking war with Iran.

Sunday’s attack killed three American soldiers and wounded more than 40 soldiers. It was the first deadly attack against American troops since the war between Israel and Hamas broke out in October and marks a serious escalation in tensions that have engulfed the Middle East.

“I would like to begin with my outrage and sorrow over the death of three brave American soldiers in Jordan and the other soldiers who were wounded,” Austin said at the Pentagon.

“The president and I will not tolerate attacks on US forces and will take all necessary measures to defend the United States and our troops,” Austin added at the start of the meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the Pentagon.

“As the president said yesterday, we will respond, and that response could be multi-layered, come in phases and be sustained over time,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said.

But Biden administration officials said they didn’t want the situation to get worse. The Pentagon suggested that Iran didn’t want a war either.

“We certainly don’t seek war and frankly we don’t see Iran wanting to seek war with the United States,” Pentagon spokeswoman Sabrina Singh told reporters. You added that the Pentagon believes that Iran doesn’t want a war either.

“We are not seeking conflict with the regime in a military way,” White House national security spokesman John Kirby (NYSE:) said, adding that Biden is examining response options.

The United States is trying to determine exactly why the nearly 350 soldiers at the base in Jordan, known as Tower 22, were unable to stop the drone.

Two officials said an American drone was approaching the base at about the same time as the attack drone arrived. One of the officials said the attack drone was also flying at low altitude, factors that may have contributed to it going unnoticed by the base’s defenses.

The U.S. Army released the names of the victims, the youngest of whom was 23-year-old Army Reserve specialist Breonna Alexsondria Moffett.

American troops have been attacked more than 160 times in Iraq, Syria and Jordan since October 7, and warships have also been attacked in the Red Sea. Houthi fighters in Yemen have launched drones and missiles at them over the Red Sea.

The attacks are putting political pressure on Biden to strike a direct blow against Iran, a step he has been reluctant to take for fear of triggering a broader war.

Biden met with Austin and other members of his national security team in the White House Situation Room on Monday morning to discuss the latest developments regarding the attack, the White House said.

The president’s options could include targeting Iranian forces outside or inside Iran and opting for a more cautious retaliatory strike solely against the Iranian-backed militants responsible, experts say.

“Iran continues to destabilize the region, including supporting terrorists who attack our ships in the Red Sea,” Stoltenberg said.


The attack, and any potential American response, will likely stoke fears of a broader conflict in the Middle East, where war erupted in Gaza after the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas’ raid on Israel on October 7 that killed 1,200 people.

According to the local Health Ministry, the subsequent Israeli attack on Gaza killed over 26,000 Palestinians.

The United States has already responded in Iraq, Syria and Yemen in response to previous attacks by Iranian-backed groups.

Singh said the weekend attacks had “signatures” of Kataeb Hezbollah, an armed group aligned with Iran, but the Pentagon had not yet made a final assessment.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said on Monday he was concerned about tensions in the Middle East and urged Iran to ease tensions.

Iran’s intelligence minister said regional armed groups aligned with Tehran respond to “American attackers” at their discretion.

Experts have warned that any attack against Iranian forces inside Iran could force Tehran to respond with force, escalating the situation in a way that could drag the United States into a major war in the Middle East.

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