WASHINGTON, D.C. – President Joe Biden ordered a military strike Thursday on a location in Syria that was home to two Iranian-backed militia groups as payback for recent rocket attacks on U.S. forces in the region, drawing support from both sides of the political aisle but some detractors as well.
The strikes – conducted by two F15s dropping GPS-guided Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAMs) – reportedly destroyed “multiple facilities” near al-Hurri village on the Syrian-Iraqi border inside Syria and resulted in the deaths of at least 22 Iraqi Hezbollah militants, according to reports.
The military strike – reportedly against a weapons smuggling operation – is the first known to be directed by President Biden since taking office, and according to Pentagon spokesman John Kirby, was carried out in response to attacks against U.S. soldiers and to deter future attacks as well.
“Specifically, the strikes destroyed multiple facilities located at a border control point used by a number of Iranian-backed militant groups, including Kata’ib Hezbollah and Kata’ib Sayyid al Shuhada,” Kirby said. “The operation sends an unambiguous message; President Biden will act to protect American coalition personnel. At the same time, we have acted in a deliberate manner that aims to de-escalate the overall situation in both Eastern Syria and Iraq.”
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Biden’s decision to strike in Syria came after a rocket attack on American targets early in February resulted in the death of a civilian contractor and injuries to five other contractors, as well as a member of the U.S. military.
The Syrian government condemned the attack, referring to it as “cowardly U.S. aggression.” Biden’s military strike garnered praise from many on Capitol Hill, including House Foreign Affairs Committee ranking member Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX).
“I called for the administration to respond to the recent attacks on U.S. and coalition targets, and I commend them for doing just that,” he was quoted as saying on Twitter. “Responses like this are a necessary deterrent and remind #Iran, its proxies, and our adversaries around the world that attacks on U.S. interests will not be tolerated. I thank @POTUS and our service members for protecting Americans overseas.”
Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) also applauded Biden’s decision to strike, saying that it sends a message to those who would attack American troops.
“Appreciate Biden Administration striking Iranian-backed militia groups in Syria who’ve been pushing attacks against American forces in Iraq and other locations,” he said. “It is imperative that our enemies know that attacking Americans comes at a cost. Very supportive of this strike and hope it will create necessary deterrence in the future.”
However, there was some who were critical of the attack, such as Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA), who complained that the Biden Administration should have sought Congressional authorization beforehand.
“We cannot stand up for Congressional authorization before military strikes only when there is a Republican President. We need to work to extricate from the Middle East, not escalate,” he said.
Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC) also disapproved of the attack, saying that the U.S. needs to stop engaging in constant military conflicts.
“I strongly oppose @POTUS meddling in Syria. I can think of better ways to ensure no one can strike our US forces in Iraq. Stop the endless wars,” she said.