The Kataib Hezbollah, an Iranian-backed Iraqi militia suspected of a drone strike in Jordan that resulted in the death of three US soldiers, has announced a suspension of operations against US forces. The group claims this move is to avoid causing embarrassment to the Iraqi government. However, the US defense department responded by stating that actions hold more weight than words.
President Joe Biden has indicated that he has decided on a response to the attack, but did not provide further details. Iran has warned that it will retaliate against any attack on its interests and denied involvement in the drone strike, despite accusations from the US and Britain.
The US is considering an armed response which could be executed in several stages. Kataib Hezbollah’s Secretary-General, Abu Hussein al-Hamidawi, stated that while military operations against US forces are suspended, the group will continue to defend their people in Gaza through other means.
The US soldiers were killed by a Shahed drone at a base near the Jordanian-Syrian border. The US has blamed Iran-backed groups for the attack but has not definitively concluded that Kataib Hezbollah was responsible.
The US is currently enhancing security at the base where the attack occurred, with additional air defenses being deployed to intercept drones. The US could potentially target Iran-aligned militia bases and commanders in retaliation for the attack.
Iran’s UN envoy, Amir Saeed Iravani, warned that Iran would respond decisively to any attack on its country, interests, or nationals. He also denied reports of messages being exchanged between the US and Iran via intermediaries.
Iran has allied armed groups operating across the Middle East who oppose Israel and the US. The US believes coordination of these groups is overseen by Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guard Corps (IRGC) and its overseas operations arm, the Quds Force.
The groups have increased their attacks against Israel, US forces, and other related targets since the start of the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza in October. The US has responded by striking targets associated with the IRGC and militias believed to have strong links with the force.
The recent drone attack in Jordan marks the first time US troops have been killed in the region since the start of the Gaza war. The US has previously carried out air strikes against Iran-affiliated groups following attacks on US bases in Iraq and Syria.