3 US soldiers killed in Middle East, Biden blames ‘Iran-backed militants’: Live updates

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Three American soldiers were killed and dozens wounded on Sunday in a drone attack by “Iranian-backed militants” on a US base along the Jordanian-Syrian border as the war in Gaza continued to show signs of spreading across the region.

They are the first American soldiers to be killed by hostile fire in the Middle East since Hamas-led militants attacked Israel on October 7, igniting a war that has killed more than 26,000 Palestinians in Gaza. US Central Command said the identities of service members will be withheld until 24 hours after their families are notified.

President Joe Biden issued a statement saying the investigation was ongoing but “we know it was carried out by Iranian-backed extremist armed groups” operating in Syria and Iraq. He said the three were “patriots in every sense of the word” and the nation was sad.

“We will continue their commitment to fighting terrorism,” Biden said. “You have no doubt that we will hold all those responsible accountable at the time and in the manner we choose.”

Muhannad Al-Mubaideen, a Jordanian government spokesman, told state television that the attack occurred across the border in Syria, but Central Command said the attack occurred “in northeastern Jordan, near the Syrian border.”

It is not executable: It does not say whether Israel is committing genocide. What is the International Court of Justice ruling on Gaza?

Developments:

∎ The genocide case against Israel at the International Court of Justice is a form of “blood libel,” President Isaac Herzog said on Sunday. On Friday, the court ordered Israel to take measures to reduce death and destruction in Gaza. He said: “The righteousness of our path cannot and will not be shaken.”

∎ As many as 80% of Hamas tunnels under Gaza remain intact despite a nearly three-month-long Israeli military effort to destroy them, US and Israeli officials told the summit. Wall Street Journal.

Palestinian children play in front of rubble in a makeshift camp housing displaced Palestinians in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on January 28, 2024.

Senator Lindsey Graham blames troop deaths on Biden’s policies

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who met with Israeli Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz in Tel Aviv on Sunday, lamented on social media that when “the Biden administration says don’t, the Iranians do it.” The rhetoric is falling on deaf ears in Iran.” Graham said that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s efforts to deter aggression against US forces in the Middle East “have failed miserably,” and said he has lost confidence in the ability of Biden’s national security team to deter Iran.

“If they don’t change their policies now, more US service members in the region will pay the price,” Graham wrote, adding, “Strike Iran now. Hit it hard.”

A deal to free the hostages may be close

Talks intensified Sunday on a potential deal under which Israel would halt military operations against Hamas for two months in exchange for the release of more than 100 remaining hostages, according to multiple media reports.

The Associated Press, citing three American officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter, reported that the proposal includes releasing the remaining women, the elderly and injured hostages within the first thirty days, and for Israel to allow more humanitarian aid into Gaza. Negotiation. the The New York Times It was reported that the negotiators developed a written draft agreement that merges the proposals presented by Israel and Hamas.

CIA Director Bill Burns was in France to hold meetings with David Barnea, head of the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad, Qatari Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdul Rahman Al Thani, and Egyptian officials. The newspaper said that negotiators are “cautiously optimistic” about reaching a final agreement.

Israeli officials told Channel 12 that the main stumbling block remains Hamas’s demand that Israel end the war while leaving Hamas in control of Gaza. A Hamas official familiar with the talks said NBC News The group was flexible on details as long as the goal was a “final, comprehensive and permanent ceasefire.”

The Israeli government is under internal pressure to release the hostages and end the war. a reconnaissance The report released last week indicated that a majority of Israelis support the US-backed peace plan, which calls for the release of all hostages and the eventual establishment of a demilitarized Palestinian state. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to continue fighting until Hamas is crushed, and pledged that Israel would oversee security in Gaza after the war.

The White House denies its claims that it will slow arms sales to Israel

The Biden administration is considering a slowdown in arms sales to Israel as leverage to force Netanyahu’s government to scale back its military offensive in the Gaza Strip, three current U.S. officials and one former U.S. official said. NBC News. Officials said weapons said to be considered leverage include artillery shells and Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAMs), which are guidance kits that turn dumb bombs into precision-guided munitions. But they also said there was little interest in slowing the delivery of air defense systems and other systems that could defend Israeli civilians and infrastructure from attacks.

The White House issued a statement saying there had been no change in policy.

UN employees linked to the Hamas-led attack on Israel that sparked the war

Israel called for the resignation of the director of the United Nations Agency for Palestinian Refugees after accusing 12 agency employees of participating in the Hamas-led attack on Israel on October 7. The United States, Canada, Finland, Australia, Italy, Estonia, France, and the United Kingdom stopped funding the UNRWA program, led by Philippe Lazzarini. Lazzarini said more than 2 million of the region’s 2.3 million people depend on the agency’s programs to “survive,” including food and shelter, and urged leaders to resume funding.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said nine staff members were fired, one died, and two others have not been identified. He added that UNRWA has 13,000 teachers, health care workers and relief staff in Gaza, almost all of whom are Palestinians.

“The alleged heinous actions of these officials must have consequences,” Guterres said in a statement. “But the tens of thousands of men and women who work for UNRWA, many of whom work in some of the most dangerous conditions for humanitarian workers, should not be punished. The dire needs of the desperate populations they serve must be met.”

The Israeli government says that the Hamas-led attack on Gaza killed about 1,200 people in Israel. Officials in Gaza say that the resulting war resulted in the deaths of more than 26,000 Palestinians, the injury of tens of thousands, and the displacement of the vast majority of the population of more than two million people from their homes and communities that were destroyed by the war.

Contributing: The Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Live updates of Hamas’ war on Israel: 3 American soldiers killed in Jordan

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