Family of soldier killed in Jordan strike pay tribute

The family of one of the three American soldiers killed in a drone strike in the Middle East on Sunday has spoken out to reveal that she was only on her first tour of duty.

In an interview with CNN, Spc Breonna Moffett’s family said the 23-year-old was “nervous” and had “mixed feelings” ahead of her first deployment and “didn’t know what to expect”.

Moffett, an Army reservist from Savannah, Georgia, died alongside two other US soldiers, named as Spc Kennedy Sanders, 24, and Sgt William Rivers, 46, following a drone strike on the US Army base known as Tower 22 in Jordan, close to the Syrian border.

William Rivers, Breonna Moffett and Kennedy Sanders, who were killed in a drone attack on an outpost in northeast Jordan

(via Reuters)

At least 34 other US service members were also injured in the attack, which officials have blamed on Iran-backed militants.

The Pentagon confirmed the overnight attack likely happened while the victims were in their sleeping quarters.

Moffett’s parents paid tribute to the 23-year-old on Monday, describing her as a “loud”, “loving” person who would “light up the room” and was “always there for everybody”.

Moffett had enlisted in the Army Reserve in 2019 and deployed in August 2023.

“She honoured her service, she was always proud to be in the military,” her mother, Francine Moffett, said, adding that she had also spent time in the military.

“She became the second female in the family to join the military,” she said of her daughter.

“She was very proud of herself. I was always very proud of her.”

Ms Moffett’s parents also described the moment they were told she had been killed. “It was extremely rough,” her father said.

“We didn’t hear of the attack until after we were notified. We were getting ready for church when the military arrived and let us know that it was our baby.”

Sunday’s attack marked the first time US troops have been killed by enemy fire in the Middle East since the 7 October Hamas attacks on Israel, which started renewed conflict in the Middle East.

An Iran-backed militia group known as the Islamic Resistance in Iraq claimed responsibility for the deadly strike on Monday.

But Iran’s mission to the United Nations has sought to distance Tehran from the attack, saying: “Iran had no connection and had nothing to do with the attack on the US base.”

It is still being determined which militia group specifically is responsible.

The Islamic Resistance in Iraq has threatened more attacks “if the US keeps supporting Israel”.

“All the US interests in the region are legitimate targets and we don’t care about US threats to respond, we know the direction we are taking and martyrdom is our prize,” the group said in a statement.

President Joe Biden vowed to respond to the attacks, saying US forces would hold those responsible to account “at a time and in a manner of our choosing.”

“We know it was carried out by radical Iran-backed militant groups operating in Syria and Iraq,” he said on Sunday.

“These service members embodied the very best of our nation: Unwavering in their bravery. Unflinching in their duty. Unbending in their commitment to our country – risking their own safety for the safety of their fellow Americans, and our allies and partners with whom we stand in the fight against terrorism,” the president continued.

The service members’ deaths increase domestic pressure on the president over the US’s involvement in the Middle East conflict, which has included bombing Iran-backed groups, including Houthi rebel targets in Yemen, to protect international shipping through the Red Sea.

The Houthis said they were targeting Israeli ships in solidarity with the Palestinians, and have now extended their missile strikes to include American and British vessels as well.

Donald Trump, the likely Republican party nominee for this year’s presidential election, issued a statement blaming the Biden administration for the growing conflict and claiming that, if he was president “[we] would right now have peace throughout the world”.

“Instead, we are on the brink of World War Three,” Mr Trump said.

There have been 158 attacks on US and coalition forces in Iraq and Syria since 7 October, though most have not resulted in serious injury or damage to infrastructure and have largely been intercepted by US air defences.

While it is unclear why US air defences failed to intercept the drone in Sunday’s attack, officials said on Monday that US forces may have mistaken an enemy drone for an American one and let it pass unchallenged into the desert base in Jordan.

Jordanian officials have denied that the attack happened on their territory, saying it occurred on Syrian territory at the Al-Tanf base.

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