Three US soldiers killed in gunfire at Jordan airbase

Three US soldiers killed in gunfire at Jordan airbase

the national

AMMAN // Three US troops were killed in Jordan on Friday when their vehicles came under fire at a military training facility, the Pentagon said, without clarifying whether or not the shooting was believed to be deliberate.

“We are working closely with the government of Jordan to determine exactly what happened,” Pentagon spokeman Peter Cook said.

The Americans were approaching the gate of the facility when they came under small arms fire, another official in Washington said.

“Initial reports were that one was killed, two injured. The two injured service members were transported to a hospital in Amman, where they died,” the official said.

Earlier, the Jordanian army said the shooting took place at Al Jafr base in southern Jordan after a car carrying American trainers failed to stop.

It said that a Jordanian officer was also wounded.

“An exchange of fire occurred Friday morning at the gate of the Prince Feisal Airbase in Al Jafr when a car carrying trainers attempted to enter the gate without heeding the guards’ orders to stop,” it said.

The army said an investigation was under way to determine the causes of the shooting.

An American defence official described the incident as “green on blue”, a military term for when friendly forces attack US personnel.

“But we can’t say for the moment if it was a deliberate” act to kill US personnel or “some kind of misunderstanding,” the official said.

The deaths could prove embarrassing for Amman, a key recipient of US financial assistance and member of the US-led coalition fighting ISIL in neighbouring Syria and Iraq.

US forces have trained a small group of vetted Syrian rebels in Jordan, and American instructors have trained Iraqi and Palestinian security forces in Jordan as well over the past few years.

The shooting on Friday comes almost a year after a Jordanian policeman shot dead two US instructors, a South African and two Jordanians at a police training centre east of Amman, before being gunned down.

Washington said at the time that the two Americans killed in the November 9, 2015 shooting were employees of the private firm DynCorp contracted by the US state department to train Palestinian forces.

Two other Americans were wounded in that incident which sparked concern in Washington and was condemned by the US embassy.

Last year, the United States announced its intention to increase overall US assistance to Jordan from $660 million (Dh2.42bn) to $1 billion annually for the 2015-2017 period.

A government source said that military training is provided at Al Jafr airbase by instructors of various nationalities, including Americans, to participants from different countries.

* Agence France-Presse