President Biden to greet the families of drone victims as US continues to mull response to killings

President Biden to greet the families of drone victims as US continues to mull response to killings

The remains of three US soldiers killed in a drone attack in Jordan will arrive back in America on Friday as questions remained over how Washington will respond to their deaths.

President Joe Biden and the First Lady were set to join the families of those killed at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware for the “dignified transfer” of the bodies.

Sergeant William Jerome Rivers, Specialist Kennedy Ladon Sanders and Specialist Breonna Alexsondria Moffett were killed when an Iranian-made drone struck the Tower 22 military base in the northeast of Jordan last Sunday.

Iran-backed militant groups have been blamed for the attack, with the Pentagon saying it carried the “footprints” of Kataib Hezbollah.

More than 40 people were also injured in the strike and Mr Biden said on Tuesday he had made up his mind on how to respond.

There has been an expectation that there will be retaliatory action by the US, but the timing has been unclear.

Washington has reportedly approved plans for multi-day strikes in Iraq and Syria against multiple targets, including Iranian facilities in those countries.

A strike into Iranian territory itself did not appear likely after the White House said Mr Biden did not want a war with Iran.

Iran’s president Ebrahim Raisi today insisted his country would not start a war but that it would “respond strongly” to anyone who tried to bully it.

In a televised speech he said: “We will not start any war, but if anyone wants to bully us they will receive a strong response.

“Before, when they [the Americans] wanted to talk to us, they said the military option is on the table. Now they say they have no intention of a conflict with Iran.

“The Islamic Republic’s military power in the region is not and never has been a threat to any country.”

Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard were believed to be pulling senior officers out of Syria today. Iranian advisers assist armed groups in both Iraq, where the US has around 2,500 troops, and Syria, where it has 900.

The White House said Mr Biden will meet with the dead soldiers’ family members at the base before the transfer today.

First Lady Jill Biden will join her husband along with US defence secretary Lloyd Austin, pictured, and air force general Charles Q Brown, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff.

The President offered his condolences to the families in a phone call on Tuesday.

“I know there is nothing anybody can say or do to ease the pain, I’ve been there,” Mr Biden said.

It comes as British Foreign Secretary David Cameron was in the Middle East to “support efforts towards regional stability”.

During a visit to Lebanon yesterday, he said the UK could officially recognise a Palestinian state after a ceasefire in Gaza without waiting for the outcome of what could be years of talks between Israel and the Palestinians on a two-state solution.

But Lord Cameron said no recognition could come while Hamas remained in Gaza.