As Biden promises retaliation after US troops killed in drone

As Biden promises retaliation after US troops killed in drone strike, Republicans push for stronger response – ABC News

Congressional leaders mourned three American service members killed in a drone strike in Jordan on Sunday and called for retaliation against the Iran-backed militants the U.S. says are responsible.

The deadly drone strike marks the first death of US troops in the line of fire since the war between Israel and Hamas broke out following the Hamas terror attack on October 7.

The White House supports Israel against Hamas but has sought to contain the conflict out of concern about sparking a larger war in the Middle East, although the U.S. has said various militants backed by Iran have carried out attacks on U.S. forces in others Opposition to Israel.

Until Sunday's attack, the US had carried out a series of retaliatory measures against Iran-linked groups.

Iran has not publicly commented on the attack in Jordan.

Gen. CQ Brown Jr., chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in a recent interview with ABC News' Martha Raddatz that he believes Iran, a regional power with major rivalries in the Middle East, does not want war with the United States

But Republican lawmakers on Sunday voiced their criticism of President Joe Biden's stance on Iran, with some calling for direct action against the country.

“We are saddened by the loss of three American heroes last night in Jordan and pray for their families and for the… other service members who were injured. America must send a crystal clear message to the entire world that is attacking.” “Our troops will not be tolerated,” House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

“Heartbroken and outraged by the deaths of three US soldiers and the wounding of many others during the horrific terrorist attack in the Middle East. “I pray fervently for all those affected,” wrote House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., on the website platform. “Every single malicious actor responsible must be held accountable.”

Texas Rep. Michael McCaul, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, noted in his own statement that the attack was just the latest attack by Iran-backed proxies in the Middle East, including Iraq and Syria, and the Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Houthis in Yemen.

He pushed for a broader policy realignment and claimed the White House had “failed.”

“We need a fundamental reorientation of our Middle East policy to protect our national security interests and restore deterrence,” McCaul said.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell echoed this, while the Kentucky Republican said in a statement: “Last night, the cost of failing to deter America’s adversaries was once again measured in American lives. We cannot afford to continue to respond to this violent aggression with half-hesitation.”

This satellite photo from Planet Labs PBC shows a military base called Tower 22 in northeastern Jordan on October 12, 2023. Three American soldiers were killed and “many” injured in a drone strike in northeastern Jordan on January 28, 2024, near the Syrian border, the president said Joe Biden. Planet Labs PBC via AP, FILE

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said the Pentagon should respond by targeting Iran, a key step that could have broader consequences and further involve the U.S. in the region.

“The Biden administration can take out all the Iranian proxies it wants, but that will not deter Iranian aggression. I call on the Biden administration to strike key targets in Iran, not just in retaliation for the killing of our forces, but as a “deterrent against future aggression,” Graham said in a statement. “The only thing the Iranian regime understands is violence. Until it pays a price with its infrastructure and personnel, attacks on U.S. troops will continue.”

U.S. officials said the unilateral drone strike took place early Sunday on the Tower 22 outpost in Jordan, near the Syrian border.

According to a defense official, at least 30 U.S. soldiers were injured in the attack in addition to the three killed.

In a statement, President Joe Biden praised the service members killed for their “steadfast courage. Unwavering devotion to duty. Unwavering commitment to our country,” before issuing a warning of his own.

“Make no mistake – we will hold all those responsible accountable at a time and in a manner of our choosing,” he said in a statement.

Later Sunday in South Carolina, he promised: “We will respond.”

ABC News' Shannon K. Crawford, Fritz Farrow, Mariam Khan and Lauren Peller contributed to this report.