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WASHINGTON: The White House on Monday vowed a “very consequential response” to a drone attack on a base in Jordan that killed three American troops, with President Joe Biden blaming Iran-backed.

They were the first US military deaths in an attack in the region since the Israel-Hamas war began. Though the casualties raised fears of an escalating conflict, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said Washington is not seeking a wider Middle East war.

Iran said it had nothing to do with the attack and denied US and British accusations that it supported militant groups responsible for the strike on the remote frontier base in Jordan’s northeast, near the borders with Iraq and Syria.

While the United States is still gathering the facts, “we know it was carried out by radical Iran-backed militant groups operating in Syria and Iraq,” Biden said Sunday, pledging to hold “all those responsible to account at a time and in a manner of our choosing.”

The response will be “very consequential,” National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told CNN Monday.

“But we don’t seek a war with Iran. We’re not looking for a wider conflict in the Middle East,” he added. Kirby would not speculate on the options being considered by the president, including whether targets inside Iran were on the table.

He said Washington wants to make clear that the attack — part of a series of other increasingly dangerous assaults by Iran-backed militants in the region in recent weeks — are “unacceptable.”

British Foreign Secretary David Cameron joined Biden Sunday in blaming “Iran-aligned militia” and called on Tehran to “de-escalate the region.”

Iran denied any links to the attack, with foreign ministry spokesman Nasser Kanani describing the accusations as “baseless” and a “projection.” “The Islamic Republic of Iran does not welcome the expansion of conflict in the region,” said Kanani in a statement Sunday, adding that Tehran “is not involved in the decisions of the resistance groups.” With the region already tense as fighting rages in Gaza, the strike also raises fears of inflaming a conflict directly involving Tehran.

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