Condemnations, calls for restraint
Iraqi, Kurdish leaders react to killing of US service members
ERBIL, January 29 – A drone attack that killed three U.S. service members and injured at least 34 others at a base in northeast Jordan on Sunday is causing increased concern that spillover from the war on Gaza is drawing the region closer to a wide-scale conflict. Repeated retaliatory attacks between the U.S. military and Iran-backed armed groups in the region have resulted in strikes on varying targets inside Iraq, Syria, and now Jordan, amid condemnations and calls for restraint, but also promises for vengeance.
The Islamic Resistance in Iraq claimed responsibility for the latest attack, in what it called a response to “American occupation forces in Iraq” and the “Zionist entity” in Gaza. Ayyad Al-Tufan, a former senior Iraqi army officer and military analyst, said the attack marked an escalation in already tense exchanges with the first reported deaths of U.S. soldiers in the tit-for-tat strikes since the Gaza war began in October 2023.
U.S. and Iraqi officials were quick to condemn the attack with Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin stating in a post to his official X (formerly Twitter) account: “I am outraged and deeply saddened by the deaths of three of our U.S. service members and the wounding of other American troops in an attack last night against U.S. and Coalition forces, who were deployed to a site in northeastern Jordan near the Syrian border to work for the lasting defeat of ISIS.”
President Joe Biden said while investigators were still gathering evidence on the attack, the U.S would continue its fight against terrorism. In a statement released by the White House, Biden said, “We will hold all those responsible to account at a time and in a manner [of] our choosing.”
Iraqi officials have repeated calls for restraint on all sides, with fears of the country being dragged into the conflict between the U.S. and Iran-backed groups. Speaking on condition of anonymity, a source within the Iraqi government told 964media that any retaliatory attacks inside Iraq would jeopardize already fragile talks on a timeline for the withdrawal of international coalition forces from the country. Referencing Sunday’s attack in Jordan, the source added, “The attack happened outside Iraq, the response shouldn’t be in Iraq.”
Leaders at the highest level in Baghdad and Erbil echoed those sentiments in a flurry of responses posted to X one day after the attack. A statement attributed to Iraqi Government Spokesman Basim Alawadi and posted to the Prime Minister’s Media Office account condemned the drone attack and said the government was “closely monitoring with a great concern the alarming security developments in the region.
“Iraq urges for an end to the cycle of violence and expresses its willingness to collaborate on establishing fundamental rules to prevent further repercussions in the region and curb the escalation of conflict,” the statement further said.
From Erbil, Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) President Nechirvan Barzani and Prime Minister Masrour Barzani posted statements to X expressing similar sentiments and extending condolences to the families of the soldiers killed. “I strongly condemn the terrorist attack against U.S. forces in northeast Jordan. I also extend our heartfelt condolences to the families of the fallen soldiers. We stand with the people of the United States during this difficult time. We wish the injured a speedy recovery,” Nechirvan Barzani’s post said. Masrour Barzani’s post, which he personally drafted, similarly stated, “I condemn yesterday’s cowardly attack on US forces in NE Jordan in the strongest terms. My thoughts are with the US government and people for the tragic losses in this difficult time.”