Syria Bombing

The U.S. forces deadly airstrikes in Syria sparked complaints from some of U.S. President Joe Biden’s Democratic allies that he overreached, while key Republicans applauded the move.

The reactions came after the Feb. 25 airstrikes targeted facilities belonging to an Iranian-backed Iraqi armed group, reportedly killing one fighter.

The strike could be a test of whether Congress, which fought to reclaim its war-making powers under President Donald Trump, will continue that fight under Biden. The reactions are also a sign of potential fault lines with progressives, who have been able to make inroads and sway Biden on some foreign policy matters, especially to rein in the military’s involvement in the Middle East.

Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., who led efforts to repeal the 2001 and 2002 authorizations for the use of military force, called on the Biden administration to brief Congress on the strike and justify why he did not first seek approval from the legislative branch.

“Offensive military action without congressional approval is not constitutional absent extraordinary circumstances. Congress must be fully briefed on this matter expeditiously,” said Kaine, a member of the Armed Services and Foreign Relations committees.

Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., noted that the president has the right to defend the nation and its armed forces from imminent attack, but called the recent airstrikes in Syria “unacceptable.”

“I have inherent trust in the national security decision-making of President Biden, and I know how seriously he takes Congress’ war-making powers,” said Murphy, a Foreign Relations Committee member. “But Congress should hold this administration to the same standard it did prior administrations, and require clear legal justifications for military action, especially inside theaters like Syria, where Congress has not explicitly authorized any American military action.”

Several libertarian Republicans joined in the backlash.

“I condemn meddling in Syria’s civil war,” Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul said in a tweet. “I also condemn attacking a sovereign nation without authority. What authority does [Biden] have to strike Syria?”

Progressives and some of the antiwar groups they worked with to secure Biden’s commitment to end U.S. support for offensive military operations in Yemen by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates expressed dismay on Friday.

“We need to extricate from the Middle East, not escalate,” Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., said in a statement Friday. “The president should not be taking these actions without seeking explicit authorization instead of relying on broad, outdated [authorizations]. I spoke against endless war [under] Trump, and I will speak out against it when we have a Democratic President.”

Lead Republicans and some Democrats quickly praised the U.S. airstrikes.

“Today’s airstrike demonstrates President Biden’s resolve to prevent Iran from targeting America’s personnel and allies with impunity,” said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md. “It was a strong act that will surely send a message to Tehran that our country will not abide destabilizing actions from its forces or its proxies.”

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith, D-Wash., voiced strong, but measured support.

“While the military strike was necessary to protect our personnel in the region and deter further attacks,” he said, “I have spoken with the Biden administration’s national security team and they are committed to using diplomacy and engagement with Iran, and also working with our allies and partners in the region to deescalate tensions going forward. I strongly support this effort.”

House Armed Services Committee ranking member Mike Rogers, R-Ala., and his Senate counterpart Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., also voiced support. Inhofe called the airstrikes correct and proportionate, but also threw in barbed criticism of Biden’s efforts to renegotiate the Iran nuclear deal.

Syria condemns ‘cowardly aggression’ by U.S.

The Syrian government has denounced a U.S. airstrike on its border with Iraq as an act of aggression contrary to international law, as President Joe Biden told reporters he ordered the strike as a warning to Iran.

“The Syrian Arab Republic condemns in the strongest terms the US aggression against its sovereignty,” the Syrian Foreign Ministry in Damascus said on Friday, calling Thursday’s strikes in the Deir-ez-Zor province an act of “cowardly aggression” and a “flagrant violation of the rules of international law and [the] UN Charter.”

The Syrian government, however, pointed out that the bombing sent “a message of American disregard for the role of international legitimacy in resolving the crisis in Syria,” as it coincided with the visit of UN Special Envoy for Syria Geir Pedersen to Damascus.

Denouncing the presence on Syrian soil of “Israeli, American and Turkish forces,” the government in Damascus also said it was determined “to restore every inch of [Syrian] land and liberate it from the occupation and terrorism.”

U.S. airstrikes ‘strengthen & expand’ terrorist activities in the region, says Iran

The recent US airstrikes on Iran-backed militias in Syria has shown that Washington is seeking to “revive” terrorism in the region and support now-shattered Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS), a senior Iranian official has said.

The airstrike on militias stationed on Syria’s border with Iraq commissioned by US President Joe Biden earlier this week, was harshly criticized by the secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, Ali Shamkhani on Saturday.

“America’s recent action strengthens and expands the activities of the terrorist Daesh [IS] in the region,” Shamkhani stated as he met visiting Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein. It is the second visit of the Iraqi diplomat to the neighboring country this month.

“The attack on anti-terrorist resistance forces is the beginning of a new round of organized terrorism,” the official added, promising to “confront the US plan to revive terrorism in the region.” Shamkhani did not elaborate on how exactly Tehran is planning to do that.


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