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30 Jan, 2024 18:55

Biden says he has decided how to respond to Jordan attack

The US president still has not revealed what form this response will take
Biden says he has decided how to respond to Jordan attack

US President Joe Biden said on Tuesday that he has decided how to respond to a deadly drone attack on US forces in Jordan. Biden said that he would not seek a “wider war in the Middle East.”

Asked by a reporter whether he had settled on a response to the attack, Biden replied “yes,” without revealing any further details. His answer adds little to an official White House statement put out immediately after the attack, which said that the US “will hold all those responsible to account at a time and in a manner of our choosing.”

Three US Army soldiers were killed and dozens more injured when an unmanned drone struck an American outpost in northeast Jordan near the Syrian border in the early hours of Sunday morning. After more than 150 such strikes on US forces across Iraq and Syria in recent months, the attack marked the first time that American troops in the Middle East were confirmed killed by enemy fire since the Israel-Hamas war began in October. 

US Central Command, which directs American military operations in the region, immediately blamed the attack on “radical Iran-backed militant groups operating in Syria and Iraq.” While Tehran arms and trains numerous Shi’ite militias in both countries, the Iranian Foreign Ministry said on Monday that these fighters “do not take orders from the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

“These groups decide and act based on their own principles and priorities as well as the interests of their country and people,” a ministry spokesman said.

Asked whether he holds “Iran responsible for the deaths of those three Americans,” Biden said on Tuesday that he does, “in the sense that they’re supplying the weapons to the people who did it.” Pressed on whether he would upgrade this assessment to holding Tehran “directly responsible,” Biden said “we’ll have that discussion.”

Biden’s seemingly cautious response to Sunday’s attack incensed some Republican lawmakers, including South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, a longtime proponent of military action against Iran. ““Hit Iran now. Hit them hard,” he posted on X after the attack, claiming that “until [Iran pays] a price with their infrastructure and their personnel, the attacks on US troops will continue.”

Speaking on Tuesday, Biden offered no indication that he would listen to these calls for conflict. “I don’t think we need a wider war in the Middle East,” he said. “That’s not what I’m looking for.”