The United States vowed to take “all necessary actions” to defend American forces after a drone attack killed three U.S. troops in Jordan, while Qatar said it hoped U.S. retaliation would not damage regional security or undercut progress toward a new Gaza hostage-release deal.
Sunday’s attack by Iran-backed militants was the first deadly strike against U.S. troops since the Israel-Hamas war erupted in October and marks a major escalation in tensions that have engulfed the Middle East, Reuters reported.
White House National Security spokesman John Kirby said on Monday the United States did not want a wider war with Iran or in the region, “but we got to do what we have to do.” Iran has denied any role.
Biden has previously ordered retaliatory attacks on Iran-backed groups but has so far stopped short of hitting Iran directly. “Have no doubt – we will hold all those responsible to account at a time and in a manner of our choosing,” Biden said on Sunday.
Austin said at the Pentagon on Monday: “The president and I will not tolerate attacks on U.S. forces and we will take all necessary actions to defend the U.S. and our troops.”
In Gaza, Israel launched an assault on the Hamas-ruled enclave’s biggest city, resulting in air strikes that killed and wounded many residents of Gaza City. The attack also involved tank shelling in eastern areas and naval vessels firing at western beachfront areas. Israel had previously stated it had largely completed operations in northern Gaza but recently intensified its efforts in southern Gaza.
The renewed push in Gaza City, marked by fierce gun battles near the main Al-Shifa Hospital, indicated that the conflict was not going according to plan. The Biden administration faces pressure to respond firmly to the drone attack without escalating into a broader war.
Additionally, the Biden administration has been working to facilitate the release of more than 100 hostages seized by Hamas during their deadly October 7th rampage into southern Israel. Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim al Thani expressed hope that U.S. retaliation would not undermine progress toward a new hostage release deal in recent talks, as reported by Reuters.
Meanwhile, he said that the Paris talks involving CIA Director William Burns, the head of Israel’s Mossad intelligence service, and the head of Egyptian intelligence were described as constructive by Israel, Qatar, and the U.S., despite significant gaps remaining. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken expressed hope that these talks could lead to a resumption of a Qatar-mediated negotiating process. This mechanism previously resulted in a week-long ceasefire agreement in November when Hamas released around 100 hostages.