WASHINGTON — The United States on Wednesday attributed the drone attack that killed three U.S. service members in Jordan to the Islamic Resistance in Iraq, an umbrella group of Iran-backed militias, as President Joe Biden weighs his options to respond to the strike.
Iran threatened to “decisively respond” to any U.S. attack on the Islamic Republic after the U.S. said it held Tehran responsible. The U.S. has signaled it is preparing for retaliatory strikes in the Mideast in the wake of the Sunday drone attack that also wounded more than 40 troops at Tower 22, a secretive base in northeastern Jordan that’s been crucial to the American presence in neighboring Syria.
National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said Wednesday the U.S. believes the attack was planned, resourced and facilitated by the Islamic Resistance in Iraq, an umbrella group that includes the militant group Kataib Hezbollah. He said Biden “believes that it is important to respond in an appropriate way.”
He said Biden was continuing to weigh his options, but Kirby said “the first thing you see won’t be the last thing,” adding it “won’t be a one-off.”
Kirby dismissed a statement by Iraqi militia Kataib Hezbollah announcing “the suspension of military and security operations against the occupation forces in order to prevent embarrassment to the Iraqi government.” He said the group can’t be taken at face value, and he added, “they’re not the only group that has been attacking us.”
As of Wednesday, Kataib Hezbollah and other Iran-aligned militias had launched 166 attacks on U.S. military installations since Oct. 18, including 67 in Iraq, 98 in Syria and the one in Jordan, according to the U.S. military.
The U.S. has struck back at the militias a few times over the past three months. On Oct. 27, U.S. fighter jets struck 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.