Biden tells Congress Syria strikes are consistent with U.S. right to self-defense

President Joe Biden arrives at Ellington Field Joint Reserve Base in Houston, Texas, U.S., February 26, 2021.

Jonathan Ernst | Reuters

President Joe Biden on Saturday instructed Congress that the airstrikes he ordered in Syria this week had been consistent with the U.S. right to self-defense, as members of his personal get together known as for extra transparency about why army motion was taken with out congressional authorization.

“The United States took this action pursuant to the United States’ inherent right of self-defense as reflected in Article 51 of the United Nations Charter,” Biden wrote in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and President professional tempore of the Senate Patrick Leahy.

Biden ordered airstrikes Thursday in opposition to services in jap Syria that the Pentagon says are utilized by Iranian-backed militia. The Defense Department mentioned a number of services had been destroyed at a border management level and there have been casualties, however didn’t present any further data.

Those strikes got here in response to a Feb. 15 assault through which rockets hit Erbil International Airport, which hosts a coalition army base, in northern Iraq. The assault killed a civilian contractor with the U.S.-led army coalition and injured a number of others, together with an American service member.

“I directed this military action to protect and defend our personnel and our partners against these attacks and future such attacks,” Biden wrote in his letter Saturday.

The letter comes as some Senate Democrats have pushed again in opposition to Biden over the strikes, calling on him to present a briefing why army motion was taken with out congressional approval. Under the War Powers Resolution, presidents are required to inform Congress inside 48 hours after taking army motion. In the letter, Biden cited his constitutional authority as commander in chief.

“I directed this military action consistent with my responsibility to protect United States citizens both at home and abroad and in furtherance of United States national security and foreign policy interests, pursuant to my constitutional authority to conduct United States foreign relations and as Commander in Chief and Chief Executive,” Biden wrote.

The Pentagon briefed leaders in Congress earlier than the army strikes, in accordance to a National Security Council spokesman. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s employees had been additionally notified earlier than the strike, in accordance to a Democratic aide.

Iran condemned the U.S. air strikes on Saturday and denied duty for the rocket assaults on U.S. targets. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif mentioned the U.S. strikes had been “illegal and a violation of Syria’s sovereignty,” in accordance to stories from Iran’s state media.

— CNBC’s Christian Nunley and Reuters contributed to this report.

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