February 23rd, 2024

Preliminary probe suggests enemy drone that killed US troops in Jordan was mistaken for a US drone

By Lolita C. Baldor, The Associated Press on January 29, 2024.

This satellite photo from Planet Labs PBC shows a military base known as Tower 22 in northeastern Jordan, on Oct. 12, 2023. Three American troops were killed and "many" were wounded Sunday, Jan. 28, 2024, in a drone strike in northeast Jordan near the Syrian border, President Joe Biden said. He blamed Iran-backed militia groups for the first U.S. fatalities after months of strikes against American forces across the Middle East amid the Israel-Hamas war. U.S. officials identified Tower 22 as the site of the attack. (Planet Labs PBC via AP)

WASHINGTON (AP) – An enemy drone that killed three American troops and wounded dozens of others in Jordan may have been confused with an American drone returning to the U.S. installation, U.S. officials said.

The two officials, who were not authorized to comment and insisted on anonymity, said Monday the preliminary accounts suggest the enemy drone that struck the installation known as Tower 22 may have been mistaken for an American drone that was in the air at the same time.

The officials said that as the enemy drone was flying in at a low altitude, a U.S. drone was returning to the base. As a result, there was no effort to shoot down the enemy drone.

Explanation for how the enemy drone evaded U.S. air defenses on the installation came as the White House said Monday it’s not looking for war with Iran even as President Joe Biden vows retaliatory action. The Democratic administration believes Tehran was behind the strike.

The brazen attack, which the Biden administration blames on Iranian-based proxies, adds another layer of complexity to an already tense Mideast situation as the Biden administration tries to keep the Israel-Hamas war from expanding into a broader regional conflict.

“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,” Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Monday as he met at the Pentagon with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

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