President Joe Biden arrives at Ellington Field Joint Reserve Base in Houston, Texas, USA on February 26, 2021.
Jonathan Ernst | Reuters
President Joe Biden told Congress on Saturday that the airstrikes he ordered in Syria this week were in line with the US right to self-defense, as members of his own party called for more transparency on why military action was taken without the consent of the United States. Congress.
“The United States has taken this action under the United States’ inherent right to self-defense as set forth in Article 51 of the United Nations Charter,” Biden wrote in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and President pro tempore of the United States. the Senate Patrick Leahy. .
Biden on Thursday ordered airstrikes against facilities in eastern Syria that the Pentagon says are being used by Iranian-backed militias. The Department of Defense said several facilities at a border checkpoint were destroyed and casualties were reported, but did not provide additional information.
Those attacks came in response to a Feb. 15 attack in which missiles hit Erbil International Airport, which houses a military coalition base, in northern Iraq. The attack killed a civilian contractor from the US-led military coalition and injured several others, including a US soldier.
“I have led this military action to protect and defend our personnel and our partners from these attacks and future such attacks,” Biden wrote in his letter on Saturday.
The letter comes because some Senate Democrats have pushed back against Biden over the strikes, calling on him to briefly explain why military action was taken without congressional approval. Under the War Powers Resolution, presidents are required to notify Congress within 48 hours of taking military action. In the letter, Biden cited his constitutional authority as commander in chief.
“ I have conducted this military action in accordance with my responsibility to protect American citizens both at home and abroad and to advance the interests of the national security and foreign policy of the United States, by virtue of my constitutional authority to protect foreign nationals. to maintain relations of the United States and as Commander-in-Chief and Chief Executive, ”Biden wrote.
According to a National Security Council spokesman, the Pentagon briefed Congressional leaders before the military attacks began. According to a Democratic assistant, the staffers of house speaker Nancy Pelosi were also notified before the strike.
Iran condemned the US airstrikes on Saturday and denied responsibility for the missile strikes against US targets. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the US strikes were “illegal and a violation of Syria’s sovereignty,” according to Iranian state media reports.
– The Washington City Times’s Christian Nunley and Reuters contributed to this report.