U.S. forces in Syria returned fire after a rocket attack on Monday (June 28), a military spokesman said.
U.S. Army Col. Wayne Marotto, a spokesman for the international military intervention against the Islamic State, tweeted, “U.S. forces in Syria defended themselves against multiple rocket attacks, launching counter-battery fire on the rocket launch sites. “
Multiple sources familiar with the attack confirmed to the Voice of America that the rocket attack targeted a military base known as Green Village in Deir Ezzor. Marotto told the Voice of America that U.S. forces fired 155mm artillery shells in response.
Marotto tweeted that there were no injuries from the rocket attack and that an assessment of property damage was still underway.
Hours before the rockets and shells flew around, the U.S. military said it attacked three targets near the Syrian-Iraqi border that Iranian-backed militia groups used to launch drone strikes against U.S. personnel and facilities.
“I ordered airstrikes last night against sites used by Iranian-backed militias responsible for recent attacks on U.S. personnel in Iraq,” President Joe Biden said Monday in the Oval Office of the White House.
Overnight, the U.S. struck weapons depots and operational facilities utilized by militia groups such as the Hezbollah Brigade (Kata’ib Hezbollah; KH) and the Sayyid Martyrs Brigade (Kata’ib Sayyid al-Shuhada; KSS), according to Pentagon spokesman John Kirby. Two of the strike targets are located in Syria, and the other is in Iraq.
White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters Monday, “The attacks on our forces had to stop, and because of that, the president ordered the operation for the self-defense of our personnel.”
U.S. Central Command Commander Adm. Frank McKenzie said in a June 15 interview with the Voice of America in Cairo that U.S. forces in Iraq have been attacked by drones three times in “a little more than a month’s time. The attacks caused no casualties.
McKenzie said, “There are a lot of drones in Iraq. Some of them are local. Some are from Iran. We’re pretty sure.”
Pentagon spokeswoman Lt. Cmdr. Jessica McNulty added Monday that “Iranian-backed militias have launched at least five one-way drone attacks since April of this year against facilities used by U.S. and coalition personnel in Iraq and are now launching rocket attacks against U.S. and coalition forces. “
The United States is not seeking conflict with Iran, but we are fully capable of protecting our forces on the ground and responding to any threat or attack,” she said.”
Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi on Monday condemned the U.S. airstrikes in Iraq, saying they offend national sovereignty and violate international conventions. The Iraqi military said Iraq should not become a place for “settling old scores.
Sharkey said the U.S. agreed to the Iraqi prime minister’s request to ease tensions, but the Biden administration felt confident in the “legitimate justification” for the air strikes.
Pentagon spokesman Kirby said in a statement Sunday evening that “President Biden has been clear that he will act to protect U.S. personnel. He added that the airstrikes were “proportionate in scope.
Coalition forces have been regularly attacked by rockets and drones after Qasem Soleimani, the commander of Iran’s elite Quds Force, was killed in a drone strike near Baghdad airport in January 2020. Iraqi militia leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis was also killed in that attack.
Sunday’s airstrike was the second time the Biden administration has ordered an attack on an Iranian-backed group. The U.S. launched an attack in late February on buildings in Syria belonging to Iranian-backed militias. The Pentagon says the militias launched attacks on U.S. and coalition personnel in Iraq.
In a joint press conference with Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio on Monday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the U.S. was taking “necessary, appropriate and prudent actions” aimed at limiting the risk of escalation, while sending A “clear and unambiguous” message of deterrence.
President Biden said at the White House that he had the proper authority to order the defensive strike that took place Sunday.
Biden said, “I have that authority under Article II (of the Constitution), and even those on Capitol Hill who are reluctant to acknowledge that have acknowledged that that is the case.”
Sen. Chris Murphy, a member of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, said he is concerned that the frequency of attacks on U.S. personnel and the number of retaliatory attacks by Iranian-backed groups “are beginning to look like they might fit the pattern of hostilities set forth in the War Powers Act “
Murphy said in a statement that “both the Constitution and the War Powers Act require the president to come before Congress to seek a declaration of war in such circumstances.”
Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), a senior member of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, blasted Iranian-backed militias and said the attacks “underscore the continued need” for the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) Act, which Congress passed in 2002. Force (AUMF), which Congress passed in 2002. Congress is currently debating whether to repeal the law.
The law authorizes the use of all necessary force against entities determined by the president of the United States to have assisted in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, or to be harboring such terrorists, to prevent any future attacks against the United States.
“Iran’s ongoing attacks on U.S. personnel through proxies cannot be tolerated,” Yinhofer said in a statement. “We need President Biden to develop a focused and clear strategy for dealing with Iran, rather than occasionally reacting to threats but too often seeking appeasement.”