In a significant twist, a militant group based in Iraq, suspected of being involved in a drone attack that claimed the lives of three U.S. soldiers in Jordan, has declared a temporary halt to its attacks on U.S. military installations in Iraq and Syria. Kataib Hezbollah, believed to have Iranian backing, made this announcement amid growing pressure from both Iran and Iraq, suggesting a potential easing of tensions.
Contrary to this, the White House has attributed the attack to the Islamic Resistance in Iraq (IRI), a coalition of militias backed by Iran. President Joe Biden has hinted at a military response but has not provided specific details. These developments unfold against the backdrop of global concerns about a possible escalation, especially with the ongoing conflict in Gaza further complicating the situation.
Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has reassured efforts to secure the release of 18 hostages, emphasizing discreet negotiations. In the U.S., the Chicago City Council is contemplating a resolution for a cease-fire and the release of hostages, following a City Hall protest against U.S. funding linked to Israel’s actions in Gaza.
On the international front, Swedish authorities acted swiftly to detonate a bomb near the Israeli Embassy in Stockholm. Ambassador Ziv Nevo Kulman expressed gratitude for the prompt response. The Israeli military also reported conducting a raid, destroying a weapons plant in West Khan Younis linked to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
Despite warnings and counterattacks, Houthi rebels in Yemen, with Iranian support, persist in targeting vessels in the Red Sea. The U.S. Central Command thwarted a Houthi missile posing a direct threat to U.S. aircraft, highlighting ongoing challenges in the region.
South Africa has criticized Israel for civilian casualties in Gaza, referencing a U.N. court ruling urging protection for civilians. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is reportedly exploring options for U.S. and international recognition of a Palestinian state post the Gaza conflict.
In a potential diplomatic move, a proposal involving the U.S., Qatar, and Egypt aims for a six-week pause in fighting, releasing all civilian hostages held by Hamas in Gaza. The plan also includes the release of Palestinian prisoners, temporary repositioning of Israeli troops, and expanding humanitarian aid.
As for the recent attack in Jordan, 27 of the 41 wounded soldiers, primarily from National Guard units across various U.S. states, have returned to duty. The Biden administration holds Iran accountable for supporting the militants, with the Pentagon gearing up for a potential response.