Rishi Sunak on Monday said Britain stood “resolutely” with its allies after three US troops were killed in a drone strike on sleeping soldiers at a military base in Jordan, as Iran denied responsibility.
President Joe Biden vowed reprisals for the night-time attack near Jordan’s border with Syria, the first to claim US lives after dozens of militant drone strikes in the region since the start of Israel’s war in Gaza.
Strongly condemning the attack, the Prime Minister told reporters on a visit to north-east England: “We are concerned and would urge Iran to continue to de-escalate tensions in the region.
“We stand resolutely with our allies to bring stability and peace to the region. And that’s what we’ll continue to work towards,” Mr Sunak added.
The regional tensions also encompass missile attacks on cargo vessels by Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in the Red Sea. HMS Diamond destroyed a Houthi drone that was targeting the Royal Navy vessel on Saturday.
The Jordan attack represented a sharp escalation. Donald Trump and other Republicans demanded a tough response from the Biden administration, with Mr Trump claiming “we are on the brink of World War Three”.
President Biden blamed “radical Iran-backed militant groups operating in Syria and Iraq”, and asked for a moment of silence during an election campaign event in South Carolina yesterday.
He stressed in a statement: “And have no doubt — we will hold all those responsible to account at a time and in a manner [of] our choosing.”
The Islamic Resistance in Iraq, an umbrella group of Iran-backed militias, claimed responsibility for hitting a number of targets along the Jordan-Syria border including Al-Rukban camp. The camp lies near to the US outpost Tower 22 where the three personnel died.
Its statement came before Mr Biden announced their deaths. Iran disavowed knowledge. Its mission to the United Nations said: “Iran had no connection and had nothing to do with the attack on the US base.”
Iran also backs Hamas in Gaza, whose murderous attacks in Israel on October 7 sparked the latest conflict, and Hezbollah in Lebanon. But Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani said “resistance groups” do not take orders from the Islamic Republic and that it was “baseless” to allege Tehran was behind the attack in Jordan.
US officials said that at least 34 military personnel were being evaluated for possible traumatic brain injury from the large overnight drone attack, which hit sleeping quarters at the logistics support base, part of US support operations against Islamic State group.
Britain meanwhile denied that it was cutting off all aid to hard-pressed Palestinians in Gaza after suspending payments to the UN aid agency in the coastal strip, following Israeli accusations some of its personnel took part in the October 7 attacks by Hamas.
Juliette Touma, the director of communications at the UNRWA agency, warned on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this morning: “We are extremely desperate. It has come at a time when the humanitarian needs in Gaza are growing by the hour.”
Health Secretary Victoria Atkins said on LBC: “Aid will still make its way to that region through other organisations that have not had these very, very serious allegations painted against them.”