The United States attributed on Wednesday the drone attack that killed three US service members in Jordan to the Islamic Resistance in Iraqan umbrella group of Iranian-backed militias, as President Joe Biden weighs his options for responding to the attack.
Iran threatened to “respond decisively” to any American attack against the Islamic Republic after the United States said it held Tehran responsible. The United States has signaled that it is preparing for retaliatory strikes in the Middle East following Sunday’s drone attack that also injured more than 40 soldiers at Tower 22, a base in northeastern Jordan that has been crucial to the American presence. in neighboring Syria.
National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said Wednesday that the United States believes the attack was planned, financed and facilitated by the Islamic Resistance in Iraq, a group that includes the militant group Kataib Hezbollah. He said Biden “believes it is important to respond appropriately.”
Kirby also dismissed a statement by the Iraqi militia Kataib Hezbollah announcing “the suspension of military and security operations against the occupation forces to avoid embarrassing the Iraqi government.” She said that the group cannot be taken at face value and added that “They are not the only group that has been attacking us.”
“The American response, when it occurs, will be unilateral. It will not be some kind of joint exercise,” said John Kirby.
Until Wednesday, Kataib Hezbollah and other Iran-aligned militias had launched 166 attacks against US military facilities since October 18, including 67 in Iraq, 98 in Syria and one in Jordan, according to the US military.
The United States has counterattacked the militias several times over the past three months. On October 27, US warplanes attacked two weapons and ammunition storage sites in eastern Syria, near Boukamal, that were used by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and Iranian-backed groups.
Also in Syriafighter jets dropped bombs on an IRGC weapons storage facility near Maysulun in Deir el-Zour on November 8. And US airstrikes targeted a training center and safe house in the Bulbul district of Mayadin on November 12.
On December 26, the United States launched attacks against three sites in Iraq used by Kataib Hezbollah and affiliated groups, and on January 23, the United States attacked three sites in Iraq, again targeting Kataib Hezbollah.
Any additional US attack could further inflame an already troubled region by Israel’s current war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip. The war began when Hamas attacked Israel on October 7, killing about 1,200 people and taking about 250 hostages. Since then, Israeli attacks have killed more than 26,000 Palestinians and displaced nearly 2 million from their homes, sparking anger across the Muslim world.
Violence has broken out across the Middle East, with Iran attacking targets in Iraq, Pakistan and Syria, and the United States carrying out airstrikes against Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels for their attacks on shipping in the Red Sea. Some observers fear that a new round of attacks on Iran could tip the region into a broader war.
A US Navy destroyer in the waterway shot down an anti-ship cruise missile launched by the Houthis on Tuesday night, the latest attack targeting US forces patrolling the key maritime trade route, officials said. The United States subsequently launched a new round of airstrikes against the Houthis.
The Iranian warnings first came from Amir Saeid Iravani, Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations in New York. He gave a briefing to Iranian journalists on Tuesday night, according to the state news agency. IRNA.
“The Islamic Republic will respond decisively to any attack against the county, its interests and its citizens under any pretext,” Iravani was quoted as saying. IRNA. He described any possible Iranian retaliation as a “strong response,” without elaborating.
The Iranian mission to the UN did not respond to requests for comment or explanation on Wednesday about Iravani’s comments.
Iravani also denied that Iran and the United States had exchanged messages in recent days, either through intermediaries or directly. The pan-Arab satellite channel Al Jazeerawhich is based and funded by Qatar, previously reported that such communication had taken place. Qatar often acts as an intermediary between Washington and Tehran.
But Iran’s government has taken note of US threats of retaliation for the attack on the base in Jordan.
“At some point, our enemies pose the threat, and today we hear some threats in words from American officials,” Revolutionary Guard commander Gen. Hossein Salamiwho answers only to the Supreme Leader, the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
“We are not behind war, but we are not afraid of it,” he added, according to IRNA.
Kirby, for his part, said the United States is not “seeking a war with Iran. “We are not looking for a broader conflict.”
On Saturday, a general in charge of Iran’s air defenses described them as “in their maximum defensive preparation.” This also raises concerns for commercial aviation traveling through and over Iran. After a US drone strike killed a top general in 2020, Iranian air defenses mistakenly shot down a Ukrainian airliner, killing all 176 people on board.
(With information from AP and EFE)