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Tower 22 explained: What to know about site of latest attack against US soldiers in Middle East

A little-talked-about US military desert outpost in far northeastern Jordan has attracted international attention after a drone attack killed three US soldiers and injured at least 34 others. .

The base, known as Tower 22, is located near the demilitarized zone on the Jordan-Syria border, along the bulldozed stretch of sand that marks the southern edge of the DMZ. The Iraqi border is only 9 miles away.

The region is a vast arid region known as Rukban, which was once home to refugee camps on the Syrian side in 2014 following the rise of the Islamic State’s so-called caliphate.

3 US troops killed, 25 injured in attack on Jordanian base near Syrian border

At its peak, more than 100,000 people lived there, but at the time Jordan blocked entry into the kingdom due to concerns about extremist groups infiltrating the kingdom. These concerns arose from a 2016 car bombing that killed seven Jordanian border guards.

Since then, the camp’s population has fallen to around 7,500 people, according to U.N. estimates, as supplies have not reached the camp.

Jordanian soldiers patrol the border with Syria to prevent drug trafficking, February 17, 2022. Tower 22 is located near the southern edge of the demilitarized zone between Jordan and Syria. (Khalil Mazraoui/AFP via Getty Images)

The base began as a Jordanian outpost monitoring the border, but the American presence increased after American troops invaded Syria in late 2015. The small facility includes U.S. technical, aviation, logistics, and security forces and is staffed by approximately 350 U.S. Army and Air Force personnel. There.

The base’s location provides a place for American forces to enter Syria and retreat quietly. A small American military post in Al Tanf, Syria, is just 19 miles north of Tower 22. The base is located along a major highway in Iraq and eventually Syria, which leads to Mosul, once a prominent stronghold of the Islamic State group. There is also the possibility that Iran could use the road to transport weapons.

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For years, the U.S. military has used Jordan as a base, which borders Iraq, Israel, the Palestinian territories of the West Bank, Saudi Arabia and Syria. Typically, about 3,000 American troops are stationed throughout Jordan.

But the U.S. presence in Jordan has already been disrupted by large demonstrations against Israel’s war with Hamas in the Gaza Strip over civilian casualties in a conflict that has left more than 26,000 Palestinians dead. There is a risk of incurring the wrath of the people in the country. According to estimates, around 3 million of Jordan’s population of 11.5 million are Palestinian.

Widespread unrest could threaten the rule of King Abdullah II, a key US ally. After Sunday’s attack, Jordan initially denied that the Tower 22 base existed within its borders.

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