Three U.S. troops were killed in a drone attack in Jordan near the border of Syria, where Iran-backed militias have conducted more than 150 attacks on bases hosting U.S. troops in recent months, the military said Sunday.

A one-way attack drone crashed into the Jordanian base Saturday night, killing the three U.S. service members and injuring 25 more, U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) said in a statement. One of the Iran-backed militant groups operating in Syria and Iraq carried out the attack, but the facts of the incident were still being assessed, the White House also said.

“Today, America’s heart is heavy,” President Joe Biden said in the statement.

The attack signifies a major escalation, as it’s the first time U.S. service members have been killed. A Dec. 25 attack on a base in Iraq critically wounded a service member, who is recovering in the hospital. At least 70 U.S. troops have sustained minor or concussive wounds, a senior military official said on Jan. 25.

CENTCOM is witholding the names of the fallen troops until their family members have been notified, which typically happens within 24 hours of the incident.

Biden called the attack “despicable and wholly unjust.”

“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,” Biden said.

The Saturday incident also appears to be the first to impact Tower 22 in Jordan, where U.S. forces are advising and assisting Jordanian troops, since the attacks on U.S. and coalition bases began Oct 17, CNN reported.

Micaela Burrow on January 28, 2024

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