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Lethal Attack on U.S. Military Base in Jordan

Image prompted by Dan Nexon at Nightcafe

From the New York Times:

Three U.S. service members were killed in Jordan on Sunday and 25 others were injured in what the Biden administration said was a drone strike from an Iran-backed militia, the first American military fatalities from hostile fire in the aftermath of Israel’s war in Gaza.

The attack happened at a base in northeast Jordan near the Syria border where the troops were based. Other details were not immediately available from the Pentagon’s Central Command, which issued an initial bare-bones statement on Sunday.

The report continues:

The drone strike came as Israel and Hezbollah, another Iranian ally, have traded fire across the Lebanese border. A Houthi militia in Yemen, also backed by Iran, has fired missiles and drones at commercial ships in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, calling it a retaliation for the Israeli bombardment of Gaza. The United States and its allies have fired back, striking inside Yemen multiple times.

And last Saturday, at least four U.S. service members stationed in western Iraq were injured when their air base came under heavy rocket and missile fire from what American officials said were Iran-backed militias. It was the latest in more than 150 strikes by Iran-backed militias in Syria and Iraq against U.S. troops there since the Oct. 7 attacks.

The United States has some 2,000 troops stationed at an air base in Azraq, Jordan, as well as Special Operations forces, military trainers and support personnel for the U.S. base at Al Tanf, Syria. The American troops are there largely to assist in regional efforts to stamp out remnants of the Islamic State.

In his statement, Mr. Biden called the U.S. troops in Jordan “patriots in the highest sense,” and said they were “risking their own safety for the safety of their fellow Americans, and our allies and partners with whom we stand in the fight against terrorism. It is a fight we will not cease.”

A total of six U.S. soldiers have been killed by Iranian proxies since the start of the Israel-Hamas war:

Last Sunday, the Pentagon declared two Navy SEALs dead after they disappeared 10 days earlier during an operation at sea to intercept weapons from Iran headed to Houthi fighters.

The conventional wisdom is that Hamas aimed to provoke a bloody Israeli invasion of Gaza, hence the brutality — including horrific sexual violence — of the genocidal October 7th attack. The U.S. government urged Israel not to take the bait. It continues to press Israel to take stronger steps to limit civilian casualties in Gaza and reign in far-right settler ethnic cleansing in the West Bank. But the Israeli governing coalition — although less so its war cabinet — is essentially fascist; and it’s being led by a corrupt politician who is using the conflict as a gamble for resurrection.

I point this out because it’s possible that a more restrained Israeli response would have at least reduced the likelihood of further escalation. The carnage in Gaza certainly increases the political benefits of attacking U.S. forces and western interests, because it positions the “Axis of Resistance” as the only coalition in the Middle East willing to fight for Gaza.

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