An Iraqi militant group, believed to be responsible for a drone strike in Jordan resulting in the tragic deaths of three US soldiers, has announced a temporary halt to its activities targeting the US.
Kataib Hezbollah, the Iran-aligned group that claimed responsibility for the attack on Sunday, stated that it was done to avoid causing embarrassment to the Iraqi government.
US President Joe Biden has announced that he has made a decision regarding the response to the attack, although he did not provide any further details.
Iran has issued a warning, stating that it will respond to any aggression towards its “interests”.
In a previous statement, it refuted allegations made by the US and British governments regarding its alleged involvement in the recent attack.
The US has suggested the possibility of a military response that could occur in multiple stages.
In a statement released on Tuesday, Kataib Hezbollah Secretary-General Abu Hussein al-Hamidawi assured that there would be no more attacks on the US. He emphasised the suspension of military and security operations against the occupation forces, aiming to avoid any inconvenience for the Iraqi government. Al-Hamidawi also made it clear that they would continue to support their people in Gaza through alternative means.
Three US soldiers tragically lost their lives near the Jordan-Syrian border in an incident involving a drone believed to have originated from Iran, as reported by CBS News, the US partner of the BBC.
Several soldiers sustained injuries in the assault on Tower 22, which occurred while US forces were asleep in their bunks.
The US has attributed responsibility to Iranian-backed groups and is still in the process of determining whether Kataib Hezbollah was involved.
Nevertheless, a Pentagon spokeswoman acknowledged that it displayed similarities to the activities of the militant group.
“Actions have a greater impact than mere words,” remarked Pat Ryder, a Pentagon spokesperson, in response to the group’s declaration of ceasing attacks on the US.
“There will be repercussions,” he added.
Meanwhile, there are efforts underway in the US to enhance security at Tower 22, which currently houses around 350 US soldiers dedicated to a mission aimed at countering the Islamic State group.
Additional air defences are being deployed to the base, according to a statement from a US official to CBS News on Tuesday. This includes a specialised system that is specifically designed to intercept drones.
“Undoubtedly, Iran bears the ultimate responsibility,” House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Turner stated in an interview with BBC News. He further connected the country to the Houthi attacks on ships in the Red Sea.
“We must respond in a manner that makes it clear we won’t simply keep playing defensively,” he stated.
He stated that the response from the US would compel Iran to realise that this conflict will directly affect them.
Mr Biden is currently considering various options for retaliation, which may involve targeting militia bases and commanders aligned with Iran.
The US may also consider focusing on senior commanders of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guard Corps in Iraq or Syria.
There is a possibility of the US launching an attack within Iran’s borders, which would be seen as a significant escalation by Mr. Biden.
According to reports from the Iranian news agency Irna, the Iranian envoy to the UN, Amir Saeid Iravani, issued a strong warning in New York. Iravani stated that Iran would not hesitate to respond firmly to any attack on the country, its interests, or its nationals, regardless of the reasons behind it.
He refuted claims of any communication between the US and Iran through intermediaries in the past two days.
There have been a series of attacks on US bases in the Middle East in recent months, carried out by militias with ties to Iran.
This marks the first instance of US troops being killed in the region since the commencement of the war in Gaza, which was initiated by Hamas’s attack on Israel on October 7th.
There have been previous incidents targeting US bases in the region, however, until Sunday, no lives were lost.
According to officials, there have been a significant number of attacks on US sites in Iraq and Syria since 17 October.
In recent weeks, the US conducted airstrikes against Iran-affiliated groups in response to a drone attack on a base in northern Iraq that left three US service members injured, one critically.
In January, a US strike in Baghdad resulted in the death of a militia leader who was accused of orchestrating attacks on US personnel.
Last week, US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin addressed the recent strikes on three facilities linked to the Kataib Hezbollah militia in Iraq and other groups. He stated that these strikes were a direct response to a series of escalating attacks against US and other international forces in Iraq and Syria.