Drone that killed US troops in attack slipped past defenses because there was confusion on whether or not it was American: reports

Satellite view of the US military outpost known as Tower 22 in Jordan on Oct. 12, 2023 in this handout image.
Satellite view of the US military outpost known as Tower 22 in Jordan on Oct. 12, 2023 in this handout image.Planet Labs PBC/Handout via REUTERS
  • A drone attack on a US military base in Jordan killed three troops and injured dozens more.

  • The exploding system managed to slip past the base's defenses, according to multiple reports.

  • The White House and Pentagon have vowed there will be retaliation for the attack.

The drone that struck a US military base in Jordan and killed several American troops managed to slip past defenses because it was confused at the time with another unmanned aircraft, according to multiple reports.

Three US service members were killed and at least 34 more were injured after a one-way attack drone hit Tower 22, a small logistics outpost in northeastern Jordan, early Sunday local time.

The Biden administration pinned blame for the attack on Iran-backed militias.

As the enemy drone approached the base, an American drone was also returning to the site, leading to confusion over whether the attacking system was a friendly aircraft or not, according to Monday reports from CNN and The Wall Street Journal, which cited unnamed US officials.

US Central Command, or CENTCOM, did not identify the troops killed in the attack. Initially, it said 25 service members were injured, but that figure increased to 34 later on Sunday, with eight personnel evacuated from Jordan to receive further care elsewhere. The military said it expects the number of individuals with injuries to fluctuate as troops seek follow-on care.

Approximately 350 US Army and Air Force personnel are deployed to Tower 22, which sits near Jordan's borders with Iraq and Syria. There, American forces provide logistics support to the US-led coalition working to defeat the Islamic State.

The drone blast on Sunday marked the first American fatalities since mid-October, when Iran-backed militias in Iraq and Syria started attacking US forces stationed across the region regularly with drones, rockets, and missiles.

The Pentagon has retaliated with airstrikes against Tehran-linked groups and targets in Iraq and Syria on a few occasions over the past three months, but the death of American troops is a significant escalation that is expected to draw a harsher response from Washington.

"Have no doubt — we will hold all those responsible to account at a time and in a manner [of] our choosing," President Joe Biden said after the attack.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin echoed that particular point, saying that "the President and I will not tolerate attacks on American forces, and we will take all necessary actions to defend the United States, our troops, and our interests."

Since Hamas' brutal Oct. 7 terror attacks on Israel, experts at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy think tank have identified over 170 attacks against American forces in Iraq and Syria by Iran-backed actors. US officials say the figure is slightly lower.

Analysts at the Institute for the Study of War think tank said that while these militias have described these attacks as a response to the Israel-Hamas war, as multiple Iran-backed groups across across the Middle East have done, they're part of Tehran's larger foreign policy goal of pushing the US from the region.

"Iran and its so-called 'Axis of Resistance' view the Israel-Hamas war as an opportunity to accelerate their campaign to expel US forces, as they have used the war to narratively justify their attacks," the analysts wrote in a Sunday assessment.

Iran's foreign ministry denied accusations that Tehran was behind the deadly attack on the US base in Jordan, claiming the militia groups don't take orders from Tehran and make their own decisions.

Meanwhile, as the Biden administration weighs its response to the deadly attack this past weekend, some US lawmakers have already called for the Pentagon to strike Tehran-linked targets — both within Iran and across the Middle East. The former option would likely plunge the region into further bloodshed and chaos.

Read the original article on Business Insider