US defense chief: 'Dangerous moment' in Middle East

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin says the situation in the Middle East has reached a "dangerous moment." He made the remarks in the wake of the killing of three US soldiers in Jordan.

Austin spoke to reporters at a news conference on Thursday at the Pentagon.

The soldiers were killed on Sunday in a drone strike that also wounded more than 40 others. Austin blamed radical militias backed by Iran, known collectively as the "Axis of Resistance." He expressed outrage and said the US military will respond "when we choose, where we choose and how we choose."

He added that the response will be "multi-tiered" and that the time had come to take away "capability" from the militants. He said he believes that this can be accomplished without allowing the fighting in the Middle East "spiral out of control."

US troops in the region have faced more than 160 attacks since the Hamas assault on Israel in October. CBS News reports the forces now have approval to strike targets in Iraq and Syria, including against Iranian personnel and facilities.

Iranian leaders have denied involvement in the attacks on US bases and say they are not "looking for war." However, the chief commander of the Revolutionary Guard, Hossein Salami, warned on Wednesday that his country will not allow any threats from American officials to go "unanswered."