President Joe Biden said Tuesday that he has made a decision on how to respond to the drone attack that killed three U.S. soldiers and injured dozens of others at a base in northeast Jordan.
As he departed the White House on Tuesday morning, Biden was asked by a reporter if he had made a decision in response to the attack by Iran-backed militants on Sunday. Biden replied, “Yes.”
Biden’s remarks came after he vowed to retaliate and “hold all those responsible to account at a time and in a manner (of) our choosing” for the deadly attack, which injured more than 30 soldiers.
When asked if he holds Iran responsible for the attack, the president said he does “in the sense that they’re supplying the weapons to the people who did it.”
The attack was the first U.S. deaths by Iranian-back militant groups in months since the Israel-Hamas war began Oct. 7. The explosives-laden drone blew up near a shelter where some troops slept at a logistics support base in northeast Jordan, two U.S. officials told NBC News. Eight of the injured were evacuated from the country to receive higher-level care and are stable, U.S. Central Command said Sunday.
Iran’s mission to the United Nations denied the country’s involvement in the drone strike.
“Iran had no connection and had nothing to do with the attack on the U.S. base,” the mission said in a statement Monday published by the state news agency IRNA, Reuters reported.
“There is a conflict between U.S. forces and resistance groups in the region, which reciprocate retaliatory attacks,” it added.
In a statement Sunday, the Islamic Resistance in Iraq claimed responsibility for drone attacks on Al-Shaddadi base in Syria, the Al-Rukban and Al-Tanf bases at the Syria-Jordan border, and the Zevulun naval facility in Israel. It is unclear whether the Islamic Resistance in Iraq is responsible for the attack on U.S. troops in Jordan.
Biden spoke to the family members of the service members who were killed in Sunday’s attack and will attend the dignified transfer of their bodies in Dover on Friday, National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby told reporters on Air Force One.
The president told the families that he “was grateful for their time he expressed to them how proud we all are of their service, how we mourn and feel feel sorrow over their loss, made sure that those families knew that not only was that service and sacrifice, going to be honored and respected but that they would continue to get the support that they need as they work through what no family wants to have to go through.”
“No blue star family wants to become a Gold Star family,” he added.
In initial remarks about the attack, Biden asked for a moment of silence at a South Carolina church event for the “three brave souls” who lost their lives to the attack.
“We shall respond,” Biden said.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said the U.S. response to the attack over the weekend could be “multileveled” and “come in stages and be sustained over time.”
“We will respond, we will respond strongly. We will respond at a time and place of our choosing,” Blinken said during a joint press conference with NATO General Jens Stoltenberg.
Kirby said Monday that Biden was working through his options for retaliation and stressed that the administration doesn’t “want a wider war with Iran.” Kirby added that the U.S. knew Tehran was backing militant groups in the region.
“We know that they are resourcing, they’re supplying in some cases, they’re providing information that allows these groups to do this,” Kirby said during an interview on “Today” on Monday morning.
“We’re taking that very seriously. We don’t want a wider war with Iran. We don’t want a wider war in the region, but we got to do what we have to do,” he added.
Members of the House and Senate are expected to receive classified briefings on the deadly attack on U.S. troops this week.
The Biden administration ordered airstrikes this month on Houthi rebels in Yemen who have launched attacks on ships in the Red Sea and on other Iran-affiliated militia groups that have targeted their attacks on U.S. personnel and facilities in Iraq and Syria.
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have demanded that the president ask Congress to vote on a new authorization for the use of military force before taking further action.