Military and Defense

Pentagon Identifies US Soldiers Killed In Iranian-Backed Drone Attack

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The three U.S. service members killed in a drone attack on Sunday are Sgt. William Rivers, Spc. Kennedy Sanders and Spc. Breonna Moffett, who were assigned to the 18th Engineer Company, 926th Engineer Battalion, 926th Engineer Brigade, Fort Moore, Georgia, the Pentagon said in a statement Monday.

Rivers, 46, was from Carrollton, Ga.; Sanders, 24, hailed from Waycross, Ga.; Moffett, 23, was from Savannah, Ga, the Pentagon said in the statement. The three soldiers died on Sunday when a suicide drone fired by an Iranian-backed militant group detonated near the living quarters of the Tower 22 base near the Syrian border, representing the first casualties among dozens of attacks on U.S. troops in recent months.

They “died Jan. 28, 2024, in Jordan, when a one-way unmanned aerial system impacted their container housing units. The incident is under investigation,” the statement read.

“This attack was certainly escalatory as it killed three service members,” Pentagon press secretary Sabrina Singh said at a briefing Monday, while denying that the conflict between Israel and Hamas has spread. Most of the more than 160 attacks have not inflicted lethal harm and resulted in just minor injuries and damage to facilities, she argued.

Eight troops were medically evacuated, and of those, three are scheduled to receive care at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center at a U.S. Army post in Germany, Singh said. At least 40 troops of the 350 deployed to the secretive Tower 22 base in Jordan have reported injuries.

An explosive-laden drone crashed near the living quarters of the base and caused injuries with varying degrees of severity, including minor cuts and brain trauma, a U.S. official told The New York Times. Most of the troops were reservists.

Singh declined to confirm reports that the enemy drone concealed itself behind a U.S. drone returning to the base at the time of the attack. Sunday’s attack did not appear different from other Iran-backed attacks in Iraq and Syria since Oct. 17, and the Pentagon could not discount the possibility that not all attacks are intended to kill U.S. troops, she said.

“It is a true tragedy that three of our service members died,” she said. CENTCOM is investigating the incident and exploring ways to improve air defenses.

“It has the footprints of Kataib Hezbollah, but we’re not making a final assessment on that. Our teams here are continuing to do the analysis, but we know that Iran is behind it… Iran continues to arm and equip these groups to launch these attacks,” she said.

Family members mourned Army Spc. Kennedy Ladon Sanders, whom they identified on social media as one of the three service members killed. The City of Waycross said it had lowered flags to half-mast in honor of Sanders.

“The City is deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Kennedy Ladon Sanders, who gave her life in service to our country. We offer our heartfelt condolences to her family and friends during this difficult time,” the city said in a Facebook post. “We are also working on additional ways to pay tribute to Kennedy and her service. Our thoughts and prayers are with her loved ones as they mourn this tremendous loss.”

“Our family would like to thank you for the respect given to Kennedy. Munchkin will be missed by many,” family member Shawn Sanders said in a Facebook post.

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