Biden Orders Airstrikes in Syria

retaliates for attack on US troops

President Joe Biden authorized airstrikes in Syria on Thursday, February 25th, the first military action he has taken since becoming commander-in-chief. The strikes were meant to be payback for three Iranian-backed rocket attacks on U.S. troops in Iraq, some of which landed near Irbil International Airport in northern Iraq, killing a contractor and wounding a service member. The attacks are the most deadly action against U.S-led forces Iran has taken in over a year. Iraq’s Balad air base was also bombed. The air base is a maintenance facility for U.S. fighter jets. Two rockets then landed near the U.S. embassy in Baghdad. In addition, on Wednesday, ten rockets were fired from a truck at the Ain-al-Asad air base in Iraq, which houses 1,400 U.S.-led coalition troops. This latest attack has resulted in the death of another contractor.

Iran has denied any responsibility for the attacks. Biden sent a clear signal to Iran, telling them to “be careful” and emphasized any attacks on U.S. forces are not going to be tolerated. The U.S. airstrikes were carried out by two F-15 fighter jets, which dropped seven munitions on buildings used by the Iranian-backed militia, damaging 11 buildings. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the U.S.-led attack has killed at least 22 people as of Friday. The death toll is expected to rise in the coming days. The Biden administration has noted that there were casualties following the U.S.-led airstrikes but has declined to go into further detail. Speaking on the topic of the latest Iranian-backed attack, the administration has said that they are not afraid to take military action, but said that, “We’re just not there yet.”

The president is being rebuked by members of his own party, with Democrats saying that the airstrikes were carried out without Congress’s consent. Biden is also being condemned by the Syrian government, calling the attack “cowardly U.S. aggression” and warning that the attack “will lead to consequences that will escalate the situation in the region.” Russia’s government is also criticizing the carryout of the strikes, calling the U.S operations in Syria “illegal.” However, the Biden administration says that the president has the right to protect U.S. service members overseas under Article II of the Constitution.

Russia also said that they were only given a four minute warning before the attack, contrary to typical diplomatic practices.John Kirby, the Pentagon’s press secretary, said that Russia was warned of the attack but did not want to jeopardize “operational security” by telling Russia earlier.

The attacks on Syria are being met with harsh blowback, both globally and at home. Seen as the first test Biden has taken since becoming president, the attacks will have significant consequences for the U.S’ new international standing around the world.