UPDATED 6:47 AM PT – Tuesday, June 29, 2021
Tensions have flared in the Middle East as Joe Biden launches several airstrikes against terror targets in Syria as U.S. troops in the region bear the brunt of his foreign policy decisions.
On Monday, pro-Iranian militants claimed responsibility for rocket attacks aimed at American troops in Syria. Although military officials stationed in Syria have reported no casualties during the attacks, they said they are still assessing the damage on their facilities.
This came just one day after Biden ordered airstrikes targeting infrastructure being held by Iran-backed militants along the Iraq-Syria border.
“They targeted facilities used by groups responsible for recent attacks on U.S. interest in Iraq, specifically the targeted operational weapons storage facilities at two locations in Syria, one location in Iraq, both very close to the border between the countries,” stated U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken. “Several Iran-backed militia groups, including KH (Kata’ib Hezbollah), including KSS (Kata’ib Sayyid al-Shuhada) used these facilities.”
State Department and Department of Defense officials claimed the airstrikes were essential in the Biden administration’s mission to protect American interests and personnel. Officials said the three locations targeted were known to to be weapon storage facilities, mainly holding unmanned aerial vehicles used to target American forces and allies in the region.
“He (Biden) believes we will, should and will, take necessary and appropriate measures to defend U.S. personnel, partners and allies in the region,” stated White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki. “Iran is a bad actor in the region and they have taken part in and supported and participated in problematic, extremely problematic, behavior in our view.”
However, the strikes are coming under immense scrutiny abroad and at home. Iraqi officials are also coming out against the attacks while asserting they are a blatant violation of sovereignty.
Iranian officials took aim at the airstrikes by calling them a “continuation of oppressive behavior” beginning with sanctions imposed by President Trump. The officials warned Biden’s decision could lead to instability in the region.
“Definitely, what the U.S. is doing is disrupting the security of the region and one victim of this instability will be the U.S. itself,” said Saeed Khatibzadeh, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson.
Additionally, Democrat lawmakers are lambasting Biden’s move for going over Congress’ head while asserting that it’s an abuse of presidential war powers. In response, analysts believe Democrats are gearing up to renew their efforts to check a president’s ability to engage in military action.
This came after Democrats took issue with another airstrike on Syria ordered by Biden in February. However, some officials support the measure. This includes former General and CIA Director David Petreus who argues Biden may have to take additional measures.
“So, force protection is one of the steps that we have to take,” Petreus noted. “And so this had to happen, I think.”