On February 26, 2021, President Joe Biden arrived at the Ellington Field Joint Reserve Base in Houston, Texas, United States.
Jonathan Ernst | Reuters
President Biden told Congress on Saturday that the airstrikes he ordered in Syria this week were in line with the United States’ right to self-defense, as members of his own party called for greater transparency on why military actions were taken without Congress’s authorization.
Biden wrote in a letter to the Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi and the interim chairman of former Senate President Patrick Leahy: The inherent right to self-defense of the United States reflected in Article 51
Biden ordered airstrikes on facilities in eastern Syria on Thursday, which the Pentagon said were used by Iranian-backed militias. The Ministry of National Defense stated that multiple facilities were destroyed at the border control post and there were casualties, but it did not provide any other information.
These strikes were in response to the February 15 attack, when the rocket hit the Erbil International Airport, a joint military base in northern Iraq. The attack killed a civilian contractor of a military alliance led by the United States and wounded several others, including an American service member.
Biden wrote in Saturday’s letter: “I am commanding this military operation to protect and defend our personnel and partners from these attacks and future attacks.”
This letter is after some Senate Democrats pushed Biden over because of the strike, calling on him to provide a briefing explaining why military actions were taken without Congressional approval. According to the “War Powers Resolution”, the president must notify Congress within 48 hours of taking military action. Biden mentioned in the letter that his constitutional authority is the commander-in-chief.
“I conduct U.S. diplomatic relations and serve as commander-in-chief in accordance with my constitutional provisions, and in accordance with my duty to protect domestic and foreign U.S. citizens, and to promote U.S. national security and foreign policy interests, I directed this military operation. Chief Executive.” Biden Write.
A spokesperson for the National Security Council said that the Pentagon briefed congressional leaders before the military strike. A Democratic aide said that before the strike, the staff of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi were also notified.
Iran condemned Saturday’s US air strikes and denied responsibility for rocket attacks on US targets. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said that according to Iranian state media reports, the US strike was “illegal and an infringement of Syria’s sovereignty”.
— CNBC’s Christian Nunley and Reuters contributed to this report.