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Biden: The strikes in Syria have sent a warning to Iran to “be careful” News

WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden said on Friday that Iran should view its decision to authorize U.S. airstrikes in Syria as a warning that it could expect repercussions for supporting militia groups that threaten U.S. interests or personnel.

“It is impossible to act with impunity. Be careful, ”Biden said when asked what message he intended to send with air strikes, which the Pentagon said destroyed several buildings in eastern Syria but were not intended to destroy militia groups that used them to facilitate inside attacks. Iraq.

Administration officials defended Thursday’s airstrikes as legitimate and appropriate, saying they had removed facilities that housed valuable “opportunities” used by Iranian-backed militia groups to attack U.S. and allied forces in Iraq.

John Kirby, the Pentagon’s chief spokesman, said members of Congress had been notified before the strikes when two F-15E Air Force planes launched seven missiles, destroying nine targets and severely damaging two others, leaving both “functionally destroyed. ». He said facilities at “entry checkpoints” at the border were used by militia groups that the U.S. blamed for recent attacks on U.S. interests in Iraq.

In a political turn for the new democratic administration, several leading members of Congress from Biden’s own party condemned the strikes, which were the first military actions he sanctioned. Democrats said the airstrikes were made without the permission of lawmakers, while Republicans were more supportive.

“Offensive hostilities without congressional approval are not constitutional without extraordinary circumstances,” said Sen. Tim Kane, D-Va. And Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., Said lawmakers should follow the current administration’s same standards as any other. “Retaliation strikes are not necessary to prevent an immediate threat,” he said, “must be approved by Congress.

But Sen. Jim Inhoff of Oklahoma, a Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, supported the decision as “the right, proportionate response to protect the lives of Americans.”

White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters Friday that Biden had used his constitutional powers to protect U.S. personnel.

“Targets have been chosen in line with recent attacks on facilities and to prevent the risk of further attacks in the coming weeks,” she said.

Among the latest attacks was a rocket attack on February 15 in northern Iraq that killed one civilian contractor and wounded a U.S. serviceman and other coalition servicemen.

The Pentagon said Kirby said the operation was a “defensive strike” on a road station used by militants to move weapons and supplies to Iraq. But he noted that while it sent a message of deterrence and undermined their ability to strike from that compound, the militia has other facilities and capabilities. He said the strikes resulted in “casualties” but declined to give more details on how many were killed or injured and what was inside the buildings until a broader assessment of the damage was completed.

A spokesman for the Iraqi militia said on Friday that one fighter had been killed and several others had been injured in the strikes.

Kirby said the targets of the attack were near Bukamal, on the Syrian side of the border with Iraq, along the Euphrates River.

“It is known that this place promotes the activities of Iranian militia groups,” he said. He described the site as a “connection” previously used by the Islamic State group when it ruled the area.

A spokesman for the Iraqi militia told the Associated Press that attacks on the Kataeb Hezbollah Brigades, or Hezbollah Brigades, had hit the area along the Syrian border between Bukamal and Qaim on the Iraqi side. The official was not authorized to speak publicly about the attack and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Speaking to reporters on Thursday night, shortly after the airstrikes, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said: “I am confident in the goal we were pursuing. We know we got it. ”

Biden’s decision to attack Syria did not seem to indicate an intention to expand U.S. military involvement in the region, but rather to demonstrate a desire to protect U.S. troops in Iraq and send a message to Iran.

The Biden administration in the first weeks stressed its intention to pay more attention to the challenges posed by China, even if the threats in the Middle East persist.

Earlier, the U.S. attacked facilities in Syria owned by Kataib Hezbollah, which they accused of numerous attacks aimed at U.S. personnel and interests in Iraq. The Iraqi Kataeb is separate from the Lebanese Hezbollah movement.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based group that monitors the war in Syria, said the strikes were aimed at a consignment of weapons that trucks were transporting to Syrian territory from Iraq. The group said 22 fighters of the People’s Mobilization Force, an Iraqi umbrella group consisting mainly of Shiite paramilitary groups that includes Kataib Hezbollah, were killed. The report cannot be verified independently.

In a statement, the group confirmed that one of its fighters had been killed, and said it reserves the right to retaliate without elaborating. Kataeb Hezbollah, like other Iranian-backed groups, supports fighters in Syria to fight both the Islamic State group and to help Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces in the country’s civil war.

Austin said he was convinced that the United States had retaliated by “the same Shiites” who carried out the rocket attack on February 15 in northern Iraq.

Kirby acknowledged to Iraqis valuable intelligence that allowed the U.S. to identify the groups responsible for the attacks earlier this year. The United States then said it had set a target to retaliate. He said the United States had also notified Russia shortly before the strike as part of the ongoing conflict resolution process in Syria.

“The operation sends a clear message: President Biden will act to protect American and coalition personnel,” Kirby said.

Syria condemned the U.S. strike, calling it “cowardly and systematic American aggression,” warning that the attack would have consequences.

The U.S. military has been significantly reduced in Iraq to 2,500 people and no longer participates in combat missions with Iraqi forces in ongoing operations against the Islamic State group.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or distributed without permission.

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