President Joe Biden issued a defense of the military’s decision to attack two Syria-based sites reportedly used by Iran, claiming it was “necessary and proportionate.”
On Friday evening, Biden sent a letter to speaker of the House Mike Johnson and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), president pro tempore of the Senate, informing them of his justification for the Oct. 26 attack on two Syria-based sites that reportedly have connections to Iran, in retribution for attacks on U.S. troops.
The letter was filed as part of Biden’s compliance with the War Powers Resolution of the Constitution, which determines the specific powers that the president and Congress have over declarations of war.
The two sites were both allegedly connected to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and were struck with a pair of F-16 aircraft. They targeted a “weapons storage area” and “ammunition storage area,” according to military officials, and were approved by Biden.
“The United States took this necessary and proportionate action consistent with international law and in the exercise of the United States’ inherent right of self-defense as reflected in Article 51 of the United Nations Charter,” Biden wrote. “The United States stands ready to take further action, as necessary and appropriate, to address further threats or attacks.”
Pentagon spokesman Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder told reporters on Thursday that U.S. forces have been attacked 19 times between Oct. 17 and Oct. 26 at al Asad Air Base in Iraq and the al Tanf garrison in Syria by a mixture of one-way attack drones and rockets.
Over the course of these attacks, 21 U.S. service members were injured but have since returned to duty. Seventeen troops were injured at al Tanf, and 15 of these were diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury. Additionally, four service members at Al Asad Air Base suffered a traumatic brain injury.
A U.S. contractor also died after suffering cardiac arrest when an early warning system detected another threat, sending people to scramble for shelter.
“Let’s be clear, Iran is responsible,” a senior defense official told reporters. “I want to emphasize that the United States does not seek conflict, nor do we desire further hostilities. However, the Iran-backed attacks against U.S. forces are unacceptable and must cease. We are prepared to take further measures to protect our people if necessary.”
A senior defense official confirmed that the U.S. did not inform the Israeli government of the strikes preemptively, given their ongoing conflict with Iran-backed Hamas.
National Security Council coordinator John Kirby said on Thursday that “there was a direct message relayed” to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
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