Drone misidentification may have killed US troops at Jordan base

A satellite photo from Planet Labs PBC shows a military base known as Tower 22 in northeastern Jordan. (Photo/AP)

US forces may have mistaken an enemy drone for an American one and let it pass unchallenged into a desert base in Jordan, where it killed at least three US troops and wounded dozens more, officials said.

As the enemy drone was flying in at a low altitude, a US drone was returning to the small installation known as Tower 22, according to a preliminary report cited by two officials on Monday, who were not authorised to comment and insisted on anonymity.

As a result, there was no effort to shoot down the enemy drone that hit the outpost.

One of the trailers where troops slept sustained the brunt of the strike, while surrounding trailers got limited damage from the blast and flying debris.

Aside from the soldiers killed, the Pentagon said more than 40 troops were wounded in the attack, most with cuts, bruises, brain injuries and similar wounds.

Eight were medically evacuated, including three who were going to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany.

The other five, who suffered minor brain injuries, were expected to return to duty.

The preliminary conclusion was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.

Asked if the failure to shoot down the enemy drone was "human error," Pentagon spokesperson Sabrina Singh responded that the US Central Command was still assessing the matter.

The Pentagon identified those killed in the attack as, sergeant William Jerome Rivers, 46, specialist Kennedy Ladon Sanders, 24, and specialist Breonna Alexsondria Moffett, 23 — all from Georgia state.




Tower 22 holds a strategically important location in Jordan, at the most northeastern point where the country's borders meet Syria and Iraq.

Little is publicly known about the base. But it includes logistics support and there are 350 US Army and Air Force troops at the base.

'No easy answer'

The explanation for how the drone evaded US air defences came as the White House said Monday it's not looking for war with Iran even as Biden vowed retaliatory action.

The Biden administration claims Tehran was behind the strike. Biden met with national security advisers in the White House Situation Room to discuss the latest developments and potential retaliation.

"There's no easy answer here," said National Security Council spokesman John Kirby. "And that's why the president is meeting with his national security team weighing the options before him."

"The president and I will not tolerate attacks on US forces, and we will take all necessary actions to defend the US and our troops," Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin said as he met at the Pentagon with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

Biden promised on Sunday to "hold all those responsible to account at a time and in a manner [of] our choosing" but said the US wasn’t seeking to get into another conflict in the Middle East.

Kirby also made clear that American patience has worn thin after more than two months of attacks on US troops in Iraq, Syria and Jordan and on US Navy and commercial vessels in the Red Sea.

Yemen's Houthis and Iraq-based Kataeb Hezbollah say the attacks are in response to Israel's brutal war on besieged Gaza.

"We are not looking for a war with Iran," Kirby told reporters. "That said, this was a very serious attack. It had lethal consequences. We will respond, and we respond appropriately."

Iran on Monday denied it was behind the Jordan strike.

"These claims are made with specific political goals to reverse the realities of the region," Iran's state-run IRNA news agency quoted Foreign Ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanaani as saying.


Source: TRT