The Pentagon confirmed the airstrike was carried out “at President Biden’s direction” following attacks on US and coalition army bases in Iraq. Militia officials confirmed one person died as a result of the American attack, but the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights cited unconfirmed reports which say at least 22 people were killed.
John Kirby, Pentagon chief spokesman, shared Congress was notified before the Thursday strikes as two Air Force F-15E aircraft launched seven missiles, destroying nine facilities and heavily damaging two others, rendering both “functionally destroyed”.
He added the facilities, at “entry control points” on the border between Iraq and Syria, had been used by militia groups the US claims are responsible for recent attacks in Iraq.
The press secretary added the Syrian airstrikes did cause “casualties”, but did not share an exact number.
He said: “We have preliminary indications of casualties on site. I’m not going to go any further than that.”
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Mr Kirby shared at the Pentagon the mission was a “defensive strike” on a point used to move weapons and militants near Boukamal, on the Syrian side of the Iraq border, along the Euphrates River.
He said the airstrike sent an “unambiguous message” and added: “President Biden will act to protect American and coalition personnel.”
Jen Psaki, White House press secretary, also told reporters today Mr Biden used his constitutional authority to defend US troops as justification for the attack.
She said: “The targets were chosen to correspond to the recent attacks on facilities and to deter the risk of additional attacks over the coming weeks.”
Democrats also criticised Mr Biden’s decision to launch an airstrike.
Tim Kaine, Democrat Senator Virginia and Chris Murphy, Democrat Senator for Connecticut, issued a statement which said: “Offensive military action without congressional approval is not constitutional absent extraordinary circumstances.”
They added: “Retaliatory strikes not necessary to prevent an imminent threat.”
Ilhan Omar, Democrat Congresswoman for Minnesota, also referenced Ms Psaki’s criticism of Donald Trump’s bombing of Syria to mock the new administration.
It comes as an apparent response to three separate rocket strikes against US soldiers stationed in Iraq.
Last week, an Iran-backed militia Awliyaa al-Dam, or Guardians of Blood, claimed responsibility for an attack on a US airbase in Iraq.
Fourteen rockets were fired at the airbase hosting US troops in Erbil International Airport, killing a contractor and leaving nine others injured.
Another salvo struck a base hosting US forces north of Baghdad days later, injuring at least one contractor.
Rockets hit Baghdad’s Green Zone on Monday which houses the US embassy and other diplomatic missions.