President Biden said on Tuesday that he had decided on a U.S. response to the drone attack on a remote outpost in Jordan on Sunday that killed three American soldiers and injured more than 40 others, leaving unstated what that decision was.
Asked by reporters outside the White House whether he had decided on a response to the lethal attack, Mr. Biden said, “Yes” but declined to provide further details.
John F. Kirby, a National Security Council spokesman, refused to elaborate on Mr. Biden’s remarks other than to say it was “very possible” that the United States would carry out “a tiered approach” — “not just a single action, but potentially multiple actions” over a period of time.
Biden administration officials have blamed an explosives-laden drone, most likely launched by an Iran-backed militia in Iraq, for the attack — the most deadly of the more than 160 militia attacks the Pentagon says U.S. forces have come under in the region since the start of the war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza nearly four months ago.
Mr. Biden has vowed to retaliate and has met twice this week with his national security aides to discuss targets in Syria, Iraq and Iran. He could order strikes on Iran’s proxy forces, a major escalation of the whack-a-mole attacks the United States has conducted in recent weeks in Syria, Iraq and Yemen.
Or Mr. Biden could opt to attack the Iranian suppliers of drones and missiles, perhaps including inside Iranian territory, which poses a much higher risk. His first targets could well be members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, many of whom are based in Syria and Iraq, officials said.
Mr. Biden emphasized on Tuesday that he was seeking to avert a broader regional conflict, telling reporters as he prepared to depart for a fund-raising swing in southern Florida: “I don’t think we need a wider war in the Middle East. That’s not what I’m looking for.”
Analysts at the Pentagon and its Central Command continued their investigation on Tuesday into how the drone evaded air defenses at the small resupply base, Tower 22, in northeast Jordan, near its borders with Iraq and Syria.