President Biden officially notified Congress of the targeted strikes that he ordered earlier this week and promised to “take further action” against further attacks on U.S. bases and troops in the region.
The president laid out his rationale in a letter to Speaker Mike Johnson, Louisiana Republican, and Vice President Kamala Harris for ordering retaliatory airstrikes against militia groups in Iraq and Syria affiliated with Iran. Mr. Biden is constitutionally required to notify Congress of the use of military force under the War Powers Resolution.
Mr. Biden’s letter to Congress doubled down on warnings from the Pentagon to Iran that the U.S. would not hesitate to take further action to protect U.S. forces.
“The United States stands ready to take further action, as necessary and appropriate, to address further threats or attacks,” he said.
Mr. Biden thumbed militia groups linked to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as the perpetrators of a series of attacks against U.S. forces that injured 21 service members and caused a U.S. contractor to die of a cardiac incident.
He said that the attacks placed the lives of U.S. personnel “under grave threat.” The retaliatory strikes were done to deter future attacks and carried out “in a manner to limit the risk of escalation and avoid civilian casualties.”
“I directed the strikes in order to protect and defend our personnel, to degrade and disrupt the ongoing series of attacks against the United States and our partners, and to deter Iran and Iran-backed militia groups from conducting or supporting further attacks on United States personnel and facilities,” Mr. Biden said.
Mr. Biden did not name the specific militia groups targeted in the airstrikes. Over the years, Iran-backed groups Kata’ib Hezbollah and Kata’ib Sayyid al-Shuhada have been behind most of the attacks against U.S. forces in the region.
The president said that the precision strikes targeted facilities operated by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and affiliated militia groups that included command and control, munitions storage and other purposes. The airstrikes come as the Israel-Hamas war rages on, but Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin tried to distance the retaliatory action from the conflict.
“These narrowly tailored strikes in self-defense were intended solely to protect and defend U.S. personnel in Iraq and Syria,” Mr. Austin said. “They are separate and distinct from the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, and do not constitute a shift in our approach to the Israel-Hamas conflict. We continue to urge all state and non-state entities not to take action that would escalate into a broader regional conflict.”
Source: Washington Times