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US troops killed in Jordan base drone attack named

The three US troops who were killed in a drone attack on an American base in Jordan have been named.

The Pentagon has identified those killed in the attack as Sgt William Jerome Rivers, 46, of Carrollton, Georgia; Spc Kennedy Ladon Sanders, 24, of Waycross, Georgia, and Spc Breonna Alexsondria Moffett, 23, of Savannah, Georgia.

The three US army reserve soldiers were assigned to the 718th Engineer Company, 926th Engineer Battalion, 926th Engineer Brigade in Fort Moore, Georgia.

Officials said that of the more than 40 wounded, most had cuts, bruises, traumatic brain injuries and similar wounds.

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Of those, eight were medically evacuated and the most seriously hurt is in a critical but stable condition.

Meanwhile it has been revealed that the enemy drone may have been confused with an American unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) returning to the base.

More on Israel-hamas War

Map of Jordan
Image:
Map of Jordan

As the enemy drone was flying in at a low altitude, the US UAV was returning to the small desert installation known as Tower 22 in northeastern Jordan near the Syria border and the hostile drone may therefore have been allowed to pass by mistake, according to a preliminary report cited by two officials, who insisted on anonymity.

As a result, there was no effort to shoot down the attacking drone that hit early on Sunday morning.

The base began as a Jordanian outpost watching the border, then saw an increased US presence after American forces entered Syria in late 2015.

The small installation includes US engineering, aviation, logistics and security troops, with about 350 US army and air force personnel deployed.

Military base known as Tower 22 in northeastern Jordan where three US soldiers were killed in drone attack. Pic: Planet Labs PBC via AP
Image:
Military base known as Tower 22 in northeastern Jordan where three US soldiers were killed in drone attack. Pic: Planet Labs PBC via AP

The explanation came as the White House said it is not looking for war with Iran despite President Joe Biden vowing retaliation.

Mr Biden met members of his national security team in the White House Situation Room to discuss the latest developments.

The attack, which the Biden administration has pinned on Iranian-backed proxies, adds to an already tense Middle East situation as the Biden administration tries to keep the Israel-Hamas war from expanding into a broader regional conflict.

“The president and I will not tolerate attacks on US forces, and we will take all necessary actions to defend the US and our troops,” US defence secretary Lloyd Austin said as he met NATO secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg at the Pentagon.

US helicopters in Jordan during previous drills at a military base. Pic: AP
Image:
US helicopters in Jordan during previous drills at a military base. Pic: AP

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The Pentagon has suggested the drone strike had the “footprints” of Kata’ib Hezbollah, an elite Iraqi armed faction close to Iran that was founded in the aftermath of the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq.

It views the borders between Iraq, Syria and Lebanon as Western constructs, and US troops in Iraq as foreign occupiers.

The group quickly developed a reputation for deadly attacks against military and diplomatic targets in the 2000s, using a mixture of sniper, rocket and mortar attacks and roadside bombs.

The US designated it as a terrorist organisation in 2009, and a US drone strike killed its leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis in 2020 at Baghdad’s international airport.

Iran has denied it was behind the attack.

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‘We shall respond’

Iraqi government spokesman Bassem al-Awadi said in a statement on Monday that Iraq is “monitoring with a great concern the alarming security developments in the region” and called for “an end to the cycle of violence”.

The statement said that Iraq is ready to participate in diplomatic efforts to prevent further escalation.

An umbrella group for Iran-backed factions known as the Islamic Resistance in Iraq has claimed dozens of attacks against bases housing US troops in Iraq and Syria since the Israel-Hamas war began.

On Sunday, the group admitted three drone attacks against sites in Syria, including near the border with Jordan, and one inside of “occupied Palestine” but so far has not claimed the attack in Jordan.

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