Biden Vows to Respond After Drone Attack by Iran-Backed Forces Kills 3 US Troops and Injures Dozens

President Joe Biden said the US “shall respond” to a drone attack by an Iran-backed militia group that killed three American troops and injured dozens more at a US base in Jordan.


President Joe Biden said the US “shall respond” to a drone attack by an Iran-backed militia group that killed three American troops and injured dozens more at a US base in Jordan.

  • “We had a tough day last night in the Middle East. We lost three brave souls in an attack on one of our bases,” Biden told a crowd at a Baptist church in South Carolina on Sunday. After asking the crowd to observe a moment of silence, he added, “and we shall respond.”
  • A potential US response could include “targeting Iranian forces outside to even inside Iran, or opting for a more cautious retaliatory attack solely against the Iran-backed militants responsible,” according to Reuters.
  • Sunday’s deadly attack is just the most recent of the more than 150 strikes on US forces in the region since the Oct. 7 attacks nearly four months ago, but this was the first attack on American personnel by Iran-backed groups to result in the deaths of Americans.
  • The so-called “Islamic Resistance in Iraq” claimed responsibility for the attacks. The name refers to an umbrella term for several Iran-backed groups operating in Iraq including Kataib Hezbollah, Nujaba and Kataib Sayyid al-Shuhada.
  • The US troops wounded and killed on Sunday were stationed at Tower 22, a US military base located along the Jordan-Syria border in northeast Jordan. Tower 22 is located near the Al Tanf garrison, the US outpost in Syria that’s been a key base in the fight against ISIS.
  • Congressional Republicans blamed Biden’s policy of “appeasement” for the American casualties and demanded the president respond. “He left our troops as sitting ducks,” said Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton. “The only answer to these attacks must be devastating military retaliation against Iran’s terrorist forces, both in Iran and across the Middle East.”
  • Former President Donald Trump blasted his successor’s Middle East policy and said the American deaths were a “consequence of Joe Biden’s weakness and surrender.”
  • “The cost of failure to deter America’s adversaries was again measured in American lives. We cannot afford to keep responding to this violent aggression with hesitation and half-measures,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. “The entire world now watches for signs that the President is finally prepared to exercise American strength to compel Iran to change its behavior. Our enemies are emboldened.”


reporting from the left side of the aisle


  • “This was the day that President Biden and his team had feared for more than three months, the day that relatively low-level attacks by Iranian proxy groups on American troops in the Middle East turned deadly and intensified the pressure on the president to respond in kind,” wrote Peter Baker of the New York Times. “The Jordan attack came at a time when some American officials had been exploring the idea that Iran might be on the verge of trying to rein in some of its proxy forces, a theory that may be dashed by the Jordan attack.”
  • “The confluence of intertwined events — high-stakes hostage talks in France were underway at the same time American officials were grappling with the troop deaths in Jordan — added up to one of the most charged moments since the outbreak of violence following Hamas’ October 7 terror attacks,” observed CNN’s Kevin Liptak. “How each party proceeds in the coming days could significantly alter the trajectory of the Israel-Hamas war and the broader tensions it has sparked in the Middle East.”
  • “The United States has carried out dozens of attacks in retaliation” to the more than 170 attacks on US forces in the region, “including one in Baghdad that killed a senior Nujaba commander,” the Washington Post noted. “But with American blood now spilled, the message of deterrence is expected to be more robust, raising the danger of further escalation in a region where conflict is already in full swing in several places.”



  • National Review’s Jim Geraghty condemned Biden’s “endless, ineffective ‘careful calibration,’” the administration’s favorite talking point to describe Biden’s foreign policy. “And yet,” as  Geraghty points out, “these ‘carefully calibrated’ responses rarely prove effective.” He continues, “Did it ever cross the mind of the Biden team that maybe the fact that every U.S. response is so ‘carefully calibrated’ and ‘proportionate’ and ‘non-escalatory’ is one of the reasons that the Iranians, the Russians, and other hostile states are so rarely if ever deterred?”
  • Fox News reported “It is believed that the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force (IRGC-QF) plays a role in organizing” the Islamic Resistance in Iraq and reporter Bradford Betz elaborated on how the Iran-led coalition of militant groups functions.
  • The Commentary podcast discussed “Joe Biden’s next steps relating to Iran and its proxies attacking Americans in the Middle East and the temptation to do just a little bit and not a lot to respond, which will only make things worse.” The hosts observe that Biden’s response is “even more puzzling given how vulnerable Biden is in an election year against Donald Trump on this issue because Trump can favorably contrast his record on Iran with Biden’s in a way Biden will be hard-pressed to counter.”

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© Dominic Moore, 2023