US forces under scrutiny following deadly drone attack in Jordan: Iran-backed militias suspected
During a press briefing at the White House, Kirby responded to a question about whether the President was considering strikes on Iran in response to Sunday's attack on US forces at base Tower 22 near the Syrian border. "We aren't looking to inflame the situation. Our efforts have been focused on de-escalating the tensions. However, the severity of this attack, which carried deadly consequences, dictates that we must respond, and we will do so appropriately," Kirby asserted.
The Pentagon reports that three soldiers were killed in the attack and at least 40 others injured.
Kirby indicated that while US services are investigating the extent of Iran's involvement in the attacks, it's certain that Iran does support militant groups in Syria and Iraq. These groups have launched almost 170 attacks against US forces in the region since October.
Kirby responds to claims
"We know they support these groups. They provide them with resources, training, and they certainly don't discourage the attacks, whether they're carried out by the Houthi, Hamas, Hezbollah or other militias in Iraq and Syria," Kirby stated.
Kirby stressed he wouldn't be publicizing and "predicting US strikes" in advance. He also dismissed accusations that the Biden administration's strategy is about "appeasing" Tehran and that it only emboldens Iran to carry out more attacks due to a perceived lack of serious consequences. Kirby pointed out that the Biden administration has imposed over 500 sanctions on Iran, and retaliatory strikes on militias have been significant, effective, and "have seriously impacted the activities of some of these groups".
Deputy Spokesperson for the Pentagon, Sabrina Singh, said on Monday that it's not yet clear which specific group carried out the attack, but it bears the hallmarks of Kataib Hezbollah, an Iraq-based militant group that has regularly attacked US forces in the past. Singh added that the United States Central Command (CENTCOM) is investigating the circumstances of the attack and the type of drone used for the strike.
Why didn't they shoot down the drone?
According to The Wall Street Journal and Politico, the hostile drone wasn't intercepted because it was tracking an American drone returning to the base at the same time. The drone, reportedly sent by one of the Shiite militias in Iraq supported by Iran, seemingly avoided detection by tailing the American drone.
"I've seen those reports, CENTCOM is currently looking into that," said Singh. She also observed that apart from the tragic loss of American soldiers, Sunday's attack didn't greatly differ from almost 170 others that, to date, have not caused serious injury to soldiers or extensive damage to infrastructure.
The casualties of the attack were reserve Land Forces soldiers from Georgia, USA, engaged in a US mission against the Islamic State.