A slew of Republican pols Sunday quickly called on President Biden to retaliate against Iran after three US service members were killed and 34 others wounded in an attack by Iranian-backed militants in Jordan.
“Hit Iran now. Hit them hard,” wrote Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), well-known for his hawkish views, on X.
“When the Biden Administration says ‘don’t’, the Iranians ‘do’. The Biden Administration’s rhetoric is falling on deaf ears in Iran,” Graham said.
“Iran is undeterred,” he said. “The only thing the Iranian regime understands is force. Until they pay a price with their infrastructure and their personnel, the attacks on U.S. troops will continue.”
The White House confirmed Sunday that the deadly attack took place Saturday evening and was the result of a drone strike from “radical Iran-backed militant groups” in the region.
President Biden later vowed at a campaign stop in South Carolina that the US would retaliate.
“We shall respond,” he told supporters at Brookland Baptist church.
“We had a tough day in the Middle East. We lost three brave souls,” Biden said, asking for a moment of silence.
Numerous Republicans expressed their condolences to the families of the victims of the most high-profile loss of US soldiers killed in action by a foreign enemy since the 2021 Kabul airport bombing, according to the Defense Casualty Analysis System.
They also used Saturday’s deadly assault to highlight what they called Biden’s failed policies in the Middle East.
For weeks since Hamas’ deadly Oct. 7 surprise attack on Israel, Iranian-backed proxies — such as the Houthis in Yemen, Hezbollah in Lebanon and militia groups in Iraq, as well as Syria — have unleashed fire near US or allied assets and forces stationed in the region.
“The Biden administration’s failed Middle East policy has destroyed our deterrence against adversaries in the Middle East,” House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas) said in a statement.
“We need a major reset of our Middle East policy to protect our national security interests and restore deterrence.”
Former President and current presidential candidate Donald Trump — who ordered a strike that killed Iran’s top military official, Qasem Soleimani, in 2020 after a string of attacks from Iran — also joined the chorus.
“The drone attack on a U.S. Military Installation in Jordan, killing 3 American service members, and wounding many more, marks a horrible day for America,” Trump wrote on Truth Social on Sunday.
“This brazen attack on the United States is yet another horrific and tragic consequence of Joe Biden’s weakness and surrender,” he wrote.
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) highlighted a deal the Biden administration cut with Iran to issue a waiver for sanctions on $6 billion in frozen Iranian assets in exchange for the release of five American detainees last year.
White House officials at the time underscored it merely gave Iran access to its oil revenue that had been holed up in South Korea and planned to ensure it would only be used for humanitarian purposes.
Shortly after Hamas’ bloody attack last year, the Treasury Department reportedly assured Congress in private that the $6 billion “isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.”
“Joe Biden emboldened Iran for years by tolerating attacks on our troops, bribing the ayatollahs with billions of dollars, and appeasing them to no end. He left our troops as sitting ducks,” Cotton said in a statement.
“The only answer to these attacks must be devastating military retaliation against Iran’s terrorist forces, both in Iran and across the Middle East. Anything less will confirm Joe Biden as a coward unworthy of being commander-in-chief. “
Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) posted on X, “The President needs to order a clear, lethal and overwhelming response that demonstrates to Iran and to the world that whoever targets our men and women in uniform—or supports these attacks—will face the full might of the U.S. military.”
Speaker Mike Johnson (R-Ga.) said, “We are saddened by the loss of three American heroes in Jordan last night, and we are praying for their families and for the 25 other service members who have been injured.
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said, “Target Tehran” — before clarifying that he wanted the administration to go after the “IRGC [the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps] and [their] Quds Force terrorist facilitators.”
Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.) wrote, “I am deeply saddened to learn of the deaths of three American servicemen in Jordan. May their memories be a blessing.
“This never should have happened. Biden’s appeasement strategy towards Iran & its proxies DOES NOT WORK. Peace through strength ensures a safer world for all,” Donalds added.
Biden also conveyed his condolences to the families who lost loved ones in the attack, which took place near Jordan’s border with Syria in an outpost, known as Tower 22, that is meant to buttress the Al-Tanf base.
He stressed that officials are still gathering facts on the deadly strike.
US forces have been stationed at Al-Tanf to help combat extremist activity in the region.
Since war erupted in Israel, US forces in Al-Tanf have been subject to a string of attacks.
Before Saturday’s drone attack, the Pentagon had reported 158 attacks on US and allied forces in the region.
The identities of Saturday’s fallen will not be released to the public until their families have been notified, according to US military officials.