The first U.S. service members to die after more than three months of attacks on American forces in the Middle East were killed Saturday in a drone strike on a U.S. base in Jordan.
The deaths come in addition to two U.S. Navy SEALs lost in an attempt to keep weapons from Iran from reaching Houthi rebels in Yemen.
“On Jan. 28, three U.S. service members were killed and 25 injured from a one-way attack UAS that impacted at a base in northeast Jordan, near the Syria border,” a news release from U.S. Central Command said.
“As a matter of respect for the families and in accordance with DoD policy, the identities of the servicemembers will be withheld until 24 hours after their next of kin have been notified. Updates will be provided as they become available,” the release said.
A report from CNN said the total of wounded Americans is likely to surpass 30.
The attack took place at Tower 22 in Jordan, which is located near the border with Syria, according to CNN.
The drone was fired from Syria, and was believed to have been launched by an Iran-backed militia group.
“While we are still gathering the facts of this attack, we know it was carried out by radical Iran-backed militant groups operating in Syria and Iraq,” President Joe Biden said in a statement.
Biden said the United States “will hold all those responsible to account at a time and in a manner our choosing.”
Through Friday, there have been more than 158 attacks on American and allied forces in Iraq and Syria. About 70 American troops have been injured in those attacks. Sunday’s attack on Tower 22 was reported to be the first since the attacks began in October, according to CNN.
About 2,000 troops are stationed at an air base in Azraq, Jordan, according to The New York Times. Jordan also holds support personnel for a U.S. base in Al Tanf in Syria.
In an interview with ABC recorded prior to the attack, Gen. CQ Brown Jr. chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, defended the Biden administration’s military approach to the Middle East.
“I would also ask, would they — do they want a broader conflict? Do you want us in a full-scale war? And that’s the goal is to deter them. And we don’t want to go down a path of greater escalation that drives to a much broader conflict within the region,” he said, responding to critics of Biden’s policy.
Brown said that “part of our work here is to make sure as we as things just happened in the Middle East is not to have the conflict broaden.
“And so as I provide advice, when we think about the approach we take, we want to ensure that we take away capability while we protect our forces, at the same time not have this broaden into a — into a much wider conflict.”
When asked about the presence of U.S. forces in Iraq, Brown replied, “Well, what I’ll tell you is, you know, we’re in Iraq by the invitation of the — the governor of Iraq. And I will also tell you that we will defend ourselves,” he said.
“We’ve got to be thoughtful about our approach in these areas, and we can’t predict exactly how any one of these groups is going to respond,” he said, according to ABC.