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Iran denies role in deadly drone attack on U.S. troops in Jordan as Iran-backed group claims strikes nearby

Iran has denied it was behind a drone strike that killed three U.S. troops at a military base in northeast Jordan on Sunday, but an Iran-backed militia based in Iraq said it had carried out four attacks in the area.

"Regional resistance factions do not receive orders from Iran, and Iran does not interfere in the decisions of the resistance to support Palestine or defend itself," Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanaani said at a press briefing Monday.

The Iran-backed militia group Islamic Resistance in Iraq put out a statement Monday saying it had targeted a U.S. garrison at al-Tanf, just across the Jordan-Syria border from the U.S. Tower 22 base that came under attack over the weekend, as well as two other U.S. bases in the region and an Israeli oil facility.

Pentagon spokesperson Sabrina Singh on Monday blamed the attack on an Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-backed militia and said the U.S. was trying to determine which one.

"Iran continues to arm and equip these groups to launch these attacks, and we will certainly hold them responsible," Singh said.

A map shows the location of the U.S. military outpost called Tower 22 in northeast Jordan, near the border with Syria.
A map shows the location of the U.S. military outpost called Tower 22 in northeast Jordan, near the border with Syria. CBS News

A U.S. defense official said initial reports indicated that a drone flew in low and slow at the same time that a U.S. drone was returning to the Tower 22 base from a mission. Because the auto-response features of the air defense system were turned off to avoid shooting down the returning American drone, there was little to no warning of the incoming attack.

Most of the roughly 350 U.S. troops at the base were still in their sleeping quarters when the attack occurred in the early hours of the morning. The accommodations on the base offer very little structural protection from an incoming attack. More than 40 people were injured in the attack, Singh told reporters Monday.

In a news release Monday, the Defense Department identified the three slain American service members as Army reservists Sgt. William Jerome Rivers, 46, of Carrollton, Georgia; Spc. Kennedy Ladon Sanders, 24, of Waycross, Georgia; and Spc. Breonna Alexsondria Moffett, 23, of Savannah, Georgia.

President Biden called the attack "despicable and wholly unjust," vowing that the U.S. "will hold all those responsible to account at a time and in a manner of our choosing."

The strike was believed to be the deadliest attack on U.S. service members since 13 Americans were killed in a suicide bombing in Kabul as the U.S. military was pulling out of Afghanistan in 2021.

The drone strike was just the latest in a growing number of rocket and drone attacks by Iran-backed groups targeting U.S. forces in the region. The attacks have increased significantly amid Israel's war with Hamas, which is also supported by Iran, in the Gaza Strip.

David Martin, Stefan Becket, Kaia Hubbard and Eleanor Watson contributed to this report.

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