US ‘not looking for a war with Iran’ after deadly attack: White House


White House

Washington said it was “not looking for a war with Iran” on Monday, a day after it blamed Tehran-backed militants for a drone strike that killed three US soldiers and wounded dozens of others, Financial Times reported.

The attack on a military base in north-east Jordan, near the Syrian border, was the first to kill US troops since the Israel-Hamas war triggered a wave of assaults by Iranian-aligned groups against American forces in the region.

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“We are not looking for a war with Iran,” US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told NBC’s Today Show. But he added: “We’ll keep looking at the options…We want these attacks to stop.” 

Kirby’s comments came after Iran sought to distance itself from the deadly attack, with both sides appearing keen to avoid a further escalation.

Iran’s foreign ministry labelled any accusation that it was involved in the US troops’ deaths as a “baseless” conspiracy by those “interested in dragging the US into a new conflict in the region to intensify the crisis”.

Tehran’s mission to the UN depicted the strike as part of clashes “between the US army and resistance groups in the region, who reciprocally confront each other”.

Washington has hit targets linked to Iranian-backed militias across the region following more than 160 attacks by militants on US troops in Iraq, Syria and Jordan since October, as well as 30 strikes on international shipping in the Red Sea.

To date it has not struck Iran directly — although, in reference to the deaths of three American service members, Kirby said: “We’re now in different territory.”

Kirby said the US was “still working our way through” attributing responsibility for Sunday’s drone attack. But he added that Washington believed the group involved was supported by Kataib Hizbollah, an Iranian-backed Iraqi militia.

US defence secretary Lloyd Austin said Washington would “take all necessary actions to defend the US and our troops”.

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American forces in Syria and Iraq have come under repeated assault by a newly created group of Iran-backed Iraqi militias known as the Islamic Resistance in Iraq (IRI), which says it is retaliating over Washington’s backing for Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza.

Sunday’s attack, which US defence officials said also injured at least 34 service members, struck the Tower 22 outpost near Jordan’s border with Syria, which houses 350 US military personnel as part of the coalition against Isis.

The US has about 2,500 troops in Iraq and about 900 in Syria, where they are deployed to help prevent a resurgence of the jihadist group.

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