Skip to content

Middle East Crisis Live: Biden On Drone Attack That Killed Three US Troops In Jordan: ‘We Shall Respond’

Three US service members killed in drone attack on US forces in north-east Jordan, says Joe BidenThree US service members have been killed during an unmanned aerial drone attack on US forces in north-east Jordan near the Syria border on Saturday night.

In a statement released on Sunday, Joe Biden said that while an investigation into the attack remains underway, the US knows “it was carried out by radical Iran-backed militant groups operating in Syria and Iraq.”

Biden added that many others were wounded.

He went on to add:

Jill and I join the families and friends of our fallen—and Americans across the country – in grieving the loss of these warriors in this despicable and wholly unjust attack …

We will carry on their commitment to fight terrorism. And have no doubt – we will hold all those responsible to account at a time and in a manner our choosing.

At least 34 personnel are being evaluated for possible traumatic brain injury, according to a US official, Reuters reports.

The attacks mark the first fatalities of US troops in the region since Israel’s war in Gaza began on 7 October.

Key events

Show key events onlyPlease turn on JavaScript to use this feature

Far-right Israeli ministers attend conference on resettlement of Gaza, ‘voluntary’ transfer of PalestiniansFar-right Israeli ministers and ministers belonging to Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party have attended a conference on the resettlement of Gaza, at which the national security minister Itamar Ben Gvir said Israelis needed “to find a legal way to voluntarily emigrate [Palestinians],” Haaretz newspaper has reported.

The conference held in Jerusalem on Sunday was attended by thousands of people including finance minister Bezalel Smotrich as well as other members of the Knesset and coalition government, rabbis, settlement activists and families of soldiers fighting in Gaza.

In his speech, Ben Gvir said:

If we don’t want another October 7, we need to go back home and control [Gaza]. We need to find a legal way to voluntarily emigrate [Palestinians] and impose death sentences on terrorists … I turn to you, prime minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu: this is time for brave decisions.

Members of the Likud party, who have talked openly about the “voluntary emigration” of Palestinians since the war began, returned to the theme at the conference, according to Haaretz.

Communications minister Shlomo Karhi said that in war, “‘voluntary’ is at times a state you impose [on someone] until they give their consent.’”

Tourism minister Haim Katz meanwhile said that, “Today, after 18 years [from disengagement from Gaza], we have the opportunity to rebuild and expand the land of Israel. This is our final opportunity.”

Israeli national security minister Itamar Ben Gvir (C) dances at a conference calling for the establishment of Israeli settlements in the Gaza Strip on Sunday. Photograph: Abir Sultan/EPAAs we reported earlier, it was another deadly weekend for Palestinians in Gaza, with at least 165 Palestinians killed and 290 injured over the past 24 hours, according to the territory’s health ministry.

That brings the total death toll to 26,422 since 7 October, not including the thousands thought to be buried under the rubble of collapsed buildings.

It is difficult to independently verify details of the dead but the Associated Press reported that at last 17 people were killed in two Israeli airstrikes that hit apartment buildings in central Gaza.

Another Israeli strike hit a building in Zawaida, also in central Gaza, killing 13 people and another strike on an apartment block in the Nuseirat refugee camp killed four people.

Another 10 Palestinians were killed in a strike that hit a residential building in the Shati refugee camp in Gaza City, AP reported, citing Dr Moataz Harara, a physician at al-Shifa hospital, where the dead were taken.

In addition, Al Jazeera on Sunday reported the killing of two brothers, 13 -year-old Nahedh Barbakh and 20-year-old Ramez Barbakh, who it said were shot dead by Israeli forces on Wednesday on a supposedly safe route while carrying a white flag as they followed Israeli evacuation orders to flee their home in Khan Younis. It was not possible to verify the report.

Biden says US ‘shall respond’ after drone strike kills troops in Jordan – video’Significant gaps’ remain after Gaza ceasefire talks, Israel saysIsrael has said “significant gaps” remain between the parties after Gaza ceasefire talks initiated by the US, Qatar and Egypt and held at an unspecified location in Europe.

A statement by prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said the talks were “defined as constructive”, adding: “There are still significant gaps which the sides will continue to discuss at additional mutual meetings to be held this week.”

The intelligence summit in Europe – with the participation of Mossad Director David Barnea, ISA Director Ronen Bar, Maj.-Gen, (Res.) Nitzan Alon, the Director of the CIA, the Prime Minister of Qatar and the Egyptian Intelligence Minister – concluded a short while ago.

— Prime Minister of Israel (@IsraeliPM) January 28, 2024 The statement did not elaborate on what the gaps were and there were no statements from the other parties.

The talks have reportedly focused on a pause in Israel’s brutal military assault on Gaza in exchange for the release of Israeli hostages held by Hamas.

Rowena Mason

In the UK, the Labour MP Kate Osamor has had the whip suspended while she is investigated for saying Gaza should be remembered as a genocide on Holocaust Memorial Day.

The MP for Edmonton in north London is due to meet party whips on Monday after issuing an apology over the message she sent on the eve of the day marking the murder of 6 million Jews during the second world war.

Osamor had distributed the message to her party members, saying Holocaust Memorial Day should be observed, but other genocides should also be remembered – listing Gaza as one of them.

The former shadow development secretary, who served in Jeremy Corbyn’s top team, shared a photograph of herself signing the Westminster remembrance book of the Holocaust Educational Trust.

She also wrote that there was an ‘“international duty” to remember the victims of the Holocaust, as well as “more recent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and now Gaza”.

Gunmen captured after deadly attack on Catholic church in IstanbulTwo gunmen who opened fired inside a Catholic church in Istanbul, killing one person, have been detained, AFP reports. The news agency writes:

The shooting, condemned by Pope Francis and Turkish officials, was claimed by the so-called Islamic State group in a statement issued on its Telegram channels.

Two masked men carried out the attack at around 11.40 am (0840 GMT) at the Santa Maria church in the Sariyer district, on the European side of Turkey’s largest city, interior minister Ali Yerlikaya said on social media.

Turkish officials said it looked like a targeted attack against one person rather than against the Catholic church.

The minister said an individual initially identified only as CT was the target of the gun attack and had lost his life. He was among those attending Sunday’s service.

Turkish police detained the two suspects as they fled the scene, Yerlikaya announced late on Sunday, identifying the victim as Tuncer Cihan.

Istanbul governor Davut Gul said there had been no other injuries.

Local officials said around 40 people attended the mass including Poland’s consul general in Istanbul Witold Lesniak and his family.

They also suggested that, but for a weapons malfunction, there might have been more casualties.

Turkish police officers stand guard in a cordoned off area outside Santa Maria church in Istanbul, Turkey on Sunday. Photograph: Emrah Gürel/APIsraeli forces are raiding the West Bank city of Jenin, Al Jazeera is reporting citing the Palestinian news agency Wafa.

The broadcaster also said clashes had erupted in the village of Muthalath al-Shuhada, south of Jenin and that Israeli soldiers had stormed residential neighbourhoods in the town of Ya’bad, south-west of Jenin.

Israeli forces have repeatedly raided cities and towns across the occupied West Bank since Hamas 7 October attack on Israel.

According to the UN agency Ocha, 361 Palestinians including 92 children have been killed by Israeli forces and settlers as of Friday.

A US Muslim group has criticised former House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi after she suggested, without offering evidence, that some protesters demanding a ceasefire in Gaza could be linked to Russia and urged the FBI to investigate.

Her comments were dismissed as “unsubstantiated smears” by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), who said such remarks amounted to dehumanization of the Palestinian people, Reuters reported.

Pelosi made the remarks in a CNN interview after she was asked whether opposition to President Joe Biden’s policy in the war in Gaza could hurt the Democrat in November’s presidential election. She said:

For them to call for a ceasefire is Mr. Putin’s message, Mr. Putin’s message. Make no mistake, this is directly connected to what he (Russian President Vladimir Putin) would like to see.

I think some of these protesters are spontaneous, and organic, and sincere. Some I think are connected to Russia. Some financing should be investigated and I want to ask the FBI to investigate that.

Pelosi’s comments marked the first time a prominent US lawmaker has accused Russia’s leader of backing US protesters calling for a ceasefire.

The Russian embassy in Washington was not immediately available to comment.

Protests demanding a ceasefire in Gaza have recently occurred across the US, including near airports and bridges in New York City and Los Angeles, vigils outside the White House and marches in Washington. Demonstrators have also interrupted Biden speeches and events.

The protests have been organised by a range of human rights, Jewish and anti-war activist groups. Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesperson for CAIR, said:

It is unconscionable that an individual with such influence in this nation would spread unsubstantiated smears targeting those who seek an end to the slaughter of civilians in Gaza and a just resolution to that conflict.

CAIR national executive director Nihad Awad added that Pelosi’s comments:

echo a time in our nation when opponents of the Vietnam War were accused of being communist sympathisers and subjected to FBI harassment.

Former US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (R) with US President Joe Biden. Photograph: Sarah Silbiger/EPAThis is Helen Livingstone, taking over from my colleague, Maya Yang.

SummaryHere is where the day stands:

Three US service members have been killed during an unmanned aerial drone attack on US forces in north-east Jordan near the Syria border on Saturday night. In a statement released on Sunday, Joe Biden said that while an investigation into the attack remains underway, the US knows “it was carried out by radical Iran-backed militant groups operating in Syria and Iraq”. Biden added that many others were wounded.

The US will respond to the attack on its troops over the weekend, Biden said on Sunday. During a campaign event at South Carolina on Sunday following the attack which killed three US service members and injured dozens others, Biden said: “We shall respond.” Biden also went on to ask for a moment of silence.

US central command (Centcom) said that it is currently withholding the identities of the service members killed in Saturday night’s attack until 24 hours after their families have been informed. In a statement released on Sunday, Centcom said: “As a matter of respect for the families and in accordance with DoD [Department of Defense] policy, the identities of the service members will be withheld until 24 hours after their next of kin have been notified.”

US defense secretary Lloyd Austin has responded to the attacks on US troops in Jordan, saying: “Iran-backed militias are responsible for these continued attacks on US forces, and we will respond at a time and place of our choosing.”

Jordan has condemned the “terrorist attack” on a military advance post along the border with Syria, Reuters reports. It added that it is cooperating with the US to secure the border and fight terrorism.

A senior official with Hamas, Sami Abu Zuhri, said that last night’s attacks on US forces were tied directly to Israel’s ongoing war in Gaza which have killed more than 26,000 Palestinians since last October. Speaking to Reuters, Abu Zuhri said: “The killing of three American soldiers is a message to the US administration that unless the killing of innocents in Gaza stops, it must confront the entire nation.”

World Health Organization chief Tedros Ghebreyesus has joined UNRWA’s appeals to donors to continue funding the agency for Palestinian refugees.

In a tweet on Sunday, Tedros wrote:

We appeal to donors not to suspend their funding to UNRWA at this critical moment. Cutting off funding will only hurt the people of Gaza who desperately need support.”

Since last October, Israel’s attacks on Gaza have left close to 2 million Palestinians forcibly displaced amid shortages in food, water, fuel and medical supplies.

The UN special rapporteur on the right to food said that the Gaza strip is facing “inevitable famine” due to western countries to pause funding following Israel’s accusations that several of the group’s staff members participated in Hamas’s attacks last October.

The Guardian’s Bethan McKernan and Ruth Michaelson report:

Michael Fakhri, the UN special rapporteur on the right to food, said on Sunday “famine was imminent” and now ‘inevitable’, in a comment following the news that the US and nine other countries were suspending additional funding to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA).

‘This collectively punishes over 2.2 million Palestinians,’ he said.

According to the UN secretary-general,António Guterres, 12 UNRWA staff members were identified by Israel, nine of which had been fired, one killed and the identities of two more were being checked. A UN investigation has been launched.

Israel has not publicly shared the details of its allegations against the UNRWA employees, which according to the Axios website were provided by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), and internal security service, the Shin Bet. The information ‘pointed to the active participation of UNRWA staffers along with the use of the agency’s vehicles and facilities’, it reported.

Read the full story here:

US defense secretary Lloyd Austin has responded to the attacks on US troops in Jordan, saying:

Iran-backed militias are responsible for these continued attacks on US forces, and we will respond at a time and place of our choosing.

Egypt has also condemned the attacks which killed three US troops and injured dozens more, with its foreign ministry saying:

Egypt affirmed its strong condemnation of any terrorist acts that threaten the security and stability of the Hashemite kingdom of Jordan, expressing full solidarity with Jordan in this delicate situation … Egypt emphasized the necessity of confronting all forms of terrorism and rejecting all manifestations of violence to ensure the stability of the region.

Featured News