US Army Reserve promotes sergeant killed in Jordan drone attack: Live updates
2024/02/02

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The U.S. Army Reserve posthumously promoted Sgt. William Rivers to the rank of staff sergeant after that killed him and two other soldiers at their base in Jordan – the first attack to take the lives of American troops in the Middle East since the war in Gaza began.

Rivers was promoted in recognition of his “exceptional courage, dedication, and leadership,” the Army Reserve announced Friday. Sgts. Kennedy Sanders and Breonna Moffett were also promoted after their deaths.

President Joe Biden and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin planned to be at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware Friday where .

In response to the deadly drone attack, the U.

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S. is planning a "multitiered” response, Defense Secretary , an indication the military operation may hit several sites over a period of days.

The Pentagon has said the likely perpetrator of the assault on the U.S. base was Kataib Hezbollah, the most powerful faction among a group of Iran-backed militias under the umbrella name Islamic Resistance in Iraq. The Pentagon is weighing a proportional response in terms of damage and casualties, a Defense Department official told USA TODAY.

Developments:

∎ The Israeli military it successfully intercepted a missile that approached the country from the Red Sea.

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∎ Ebrahim Raisi, the president of Iran, said in a televised speech that while Iran will not start a war, it will "respond strongly" to "an oppressive country or force (that) wants to bully us," .

∎ Israel's military continued intensive military operations throughout Gaza on Friday. , the military said it killed 20 militants in Khan Younis, a city in southern Gaza, and attacked Hamas infrastructure in central and northern parts of the territory.

∎ The Palestinian Red Crescent Society, an independent aid group, several displaced civilians and injured several others at the organization's building in Khan Younis.

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The Israeli military has not responded to the accusation.

UNICEF: At least 17,000 children in Gaza are separated from families

The U.N. agency for children, UNICEF, said in Gaza "nearly all children are in need" of mental health and psychological support because of the war's devastating impacts.

UNICEF State of Palestine Chief of Communication Jonathan Crickx at least 17,000 children in the Gaza Strip are unaccompanied or separated from their families.

Crickx said concerning symptoms are ubiquitous among children he spoke with in Gaza. Many of them exhibited symptoms such as "extremely high levels of persistent anxiety, loss of appetite," loss of sleep, emotional outbursts and "panic every time they hear the bombings," he said at a news conference in Geneva.

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"These children don’t have anything to do with this conflict," Crickx said. "Yet they are suffering like no child should ever suffer."

Hamas considers temporary cease-fire deal

Hamas leaders on Friday were considering a proposal that includes pauses in Israel's military operations in Gaza as well as the release of hostages in exchange for Palestinian prisoners, though the multi-staged deal does not meet conditions previously set by the militant group.

Officials from the United States, Qatar, Egypt and Israel drafted the deal this week and are awaiting a response from the militant group,

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.

Earlier this week, Osama Hamdan, a senior Hamas official, told Lebanon’s LBC TV that the group would release all the hostages if Israel releases thousands of Palestinian prisoners and agrees to a permanent cease-fire. He rejected extended pauses in fighting and stressed a complete stop in Israel's military siege as well as increased aid and terms of Gaza's reconstruction.

But during a speech on Tuesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to continue the war until Israel secured "absolute victory" over Hamas.

“We will not withdraw the Israeli military from the Gaza Strip and we will not release thousands of terrorists,” Netanyahu said from a religious academy in the occupied West Bank.

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US attacks on Houthi combat assets in Yemen continue

The U.S. military continued attacks on combat assets in parts of Yemen controlled by the , a rebel group that's targeted Navy and commercial ships in the Red Sea since December.

Three strikes were carried out on Friday by U.S. and British forces in the northern Yemeni province of Hajjah, , citing Al-Masirah, a Houthi-run satellite news channel.

Late Thursday, U.S. Central Command said it fought off a Houthi drone over the Gulf of Aden and an explosive sea drone heading toward the international shipping lane in the Red Sea. Two Houthi missiles that appeared aimed at a cargo ship missed the mark and fell in the water, CENTCOM said in 

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.

The Houthis began their missile and drone campaign on Red Sea shipping lanes in mid-November, forcing cargo vessels to seek other routes and raising the cost of shipping. The Houthis say the attacks are meant to show solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza, ravaged by the Israeli military retaliation to the Oct. 7 Hamas assaults.

Iran-backed militia says it will not stop targeting US forces in Iraq

An Iran-backed militia in Iraq said it will continue targeting American troops in the Middle East, even after a powerful pro-Iran group announced a temporary suspension of its military operations against the U.

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S.

Akram al-Kaabi, leader of the Harakat al-Nujaba militia, said Friday the group he leads will continue attacks against U.S. forces until troops withdraw from Iraq and Israel ceases its offensive in Gaza.

Earlier this week, Abu Hussein Al-Hamidawi, secretary-general of Kataib Hezbollah, said the militia’s fighters would adopt a “temporary passive defense" and warned against "hostile American action." His group, also called the Hezbollah Brigades, is the strongest among a collection of Iran-backed militias known as.

The White House blames the Islamic Resistance in Iraq for the  on Sunday that killed three U.

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S. soldiers in Jordan.

Israel's military turns focus on overcrowded city of Rafah

A top Israeli official said the military will turn the focus of its military in southern Gaza to Rafah, where more than 1 million civilians have sought refuge from bombardment and ground combat.

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant Thursday that the military "dismantled" Hamas' footholds in Khan Younis, another city in southern Gaza, and will "continue to Rafah."

More than half the population of Gaza has packed into Rafah over the last several months amid an intensifying offensive by Israel's military and orders to evacuate to the south.

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In recent days, thousands more have arrived.

Those in the overcrowded city are living in makeshift structures, tents or out in the open. Human rights groups have warned about the rampant spread of diseases in Rafah amid a shortage of clean water, food and sewage infrastructure.

"Rafah is now a pressure cooker of despair," Jens Laerke, spokesperson for the U.N. aid coordination office, , "and we fear for what happens next.”

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