President Joe Biden officially notified Congress on Sunday of U.S. strikes targeting Iran-backed groups in Iraq and Syria.
Last week, three U.S. service members were killed and dozens more were injured in a drone strike at a military base in Jordan, which was carried out by Iran-backed militants. On Friday, the U.S. began a series of strikes against Iran-backed militants and Iranian military targets in Iraq and Syria. The strikes have hit over 85 targets as of Saturday, according to the Associated Press.
On Sunday, Biden sent a letter to House Speaker Mike Johnson, a Louisiana Republican, and Senate president pro tempore Patty Murray, a Washington Democrat, to inform them of the strikes.
“United States forces have conducted discrete strikes against facilities in Syria and Iraq used by the IRGC and affiliated militia groups for headquarters and command and control, weapons storage, training, logistics support, and other purposes,” Biden wrote in the letter.
President Joe Biden departs the White House to board Marine One on the South Lawn on January 27, 2024, in Washington, DC. Biden officially notified Congress on Sunday of U.S. strikes targeting Iran-backed groups in…
Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images
He continued: “The strikes have been taken to deter the IRGC and affiliated militia groups from conducting or supporting further attacks on United States personnel and facilities and have been conducted in a manner designed to limit the risk of escalation and avoid civilian casualties.”
Biden said he ordered the strikes under his “constitutional authority as Commander in Chief and Chief Executive” and in accordance with 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force and the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq.
“I am providing this report as part of my efforts to keep the Congress fully informed, consistent with the War Powers Resolution,” the president added. “I appreciate the support of the Congress in this action.”
Newsweek reached out to the White House, Johnson’s office, and Murray’s office via email for comment.
Last month, a group of bipartisan Congress members raised concerns about Biden not notifying them before ordering a series of strikes against the Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen. The strikes came after the Houthis attacked shipping vessels in the Red Sea that they believed had ties with Israel. The Houthis did so in solidarity with Gaza after Israel launched its war with Hamas following the Palestinian militant group’s surprise attack on Israel in early October.
In a letter to Biden, 27 House representatives warned that “No President, regardless of political party, has the constitutional authority to bypass Congress on matters of war.”
Barbara Slavin, a distinguished fellow at the Stimson Center in Washington, D.C., an international security think tank, shared with Newsweek how she thinks the retaliatory strikes the U.S. is conducting in the Middle East will play out.
Slavin wrote via text message on Saturday that the success of the strikes on the Houthis “all depends on whether they are coupled with a durable cease-fire in Gaza, which is the only thing that can deprive the Houthis of their rationale for continuing attacks.
“As for the strikes in Syria and Iraq, they appear to be meant to degrade the ability of militias there to continue to hit Americans. I believe they will have some effect but eventually, I think the U.S. presence in both Iraq and Syria will have to be diminished unless there is a significant improvement in U.S.-Iran relations. That is very hard to foresee right now.”
Update 2/4/24, 3:18 p.m. ET: This article has been updated with additional information.
Update 2/4/24, 3:30 p.m. ET: This article has been updated with additional information.
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Newsweek is committed to challenging conventional wisdom and finding connections in the search for common ground.