The Cable

Three U.S. Military Trainers Shot Dead in Jordan

The attack comes a year after another shooting killed two American civilian contractors in the country.

A US soldier (R) stands next to Jordanian soldier as they take part in Exercise Eager Lion at a Jordanian military bases in Zarqa, east of Amman, on May 24, 2016.
Some 6000 of soldiers from USA and Jordan are participating in Jordan's Sixth "Eager Lion" annual war games jointly overseen by the US army.  / AFP / KHALIL MAZRAAWI        (Photo credit should read KHALIL MAZRAAWI/AFP/Getty Images)
A US soldier (R) stands next to Jordanian soldier as they take part in Exercise Eager Lion at a Jordanian military bases in Zarqa, east of Amman, on May 24, 2016. Some 6000 of soldiers from USA and Jordan are participating in Jordan's Sixth "Eager Lion" annual war games jointly overseen by the US army. / AFP / KHALIL MAZRAAWI (Photo credit should read KHALIL MAZRAAWI/AFP/Getty Images)

Three members of the U.S. military were killed Friday while trying to enter the gates of a Jordanian military base in south of the capital of Amman, a defense official confirmed to Foreign Policy.

Details are scarce, but the official said the Americans appeared to have been riding in a vehicle that was attempting to enter the King Faisal Air Base when gunfire erupted.

The state-run Petra news agency reported the Americans were “killed in a fire exchange at the gate” of the base. It’s unclear if the Americans were armed, if they fired back, or even exactly who did the shooting. A Jordanian officer was also wounded.

There are typically several hundred American troops stationed in Jordan, mostly to train local police and Syrian rebels to fight the Islamic State. Washington funds the training program.

Jordan is key a member of the U.S.-led military coalition against the Islamic State, and has taken in over 650,000 refugees during Syria’s five-year civil war. But the Hashemite kingdom is also grappling with its own Islamic extremism problem, and at least several hundred Jordanian citizens have joined ISIS. The terrorist group has also launched several high-profile attacks on the Jordanian military from inside Jordan, as well as along its border with Syria.

Friday’s shooting wasn’t the first deadly incident for the American military in Jordan in recent years. Last November, a Jordanian police officer opened fire on a group of international police trainers at the U.S.-funded King Abdullah Special Operations Training Center in Amman, killing a South African trainer, two Jordanian interpreters and two American civilian contractors.

 

Photo credit: KHALIL MAZRAAWI/AFP/Getty Images

Paul McLeary is Foreign Policy’s senior reporter covering the U.S. Defense Department and national security issues. @paulmcleary

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