President Joe Biden on Saturday told Congress that the airstrikes he ordered in Syria this week followed the U.S. right to self-defense, as members of his own party required more transparency about why military action was taken without congressional authorization.
“The United States took this action pursuant to the United States’ intrinsic right of self-defense as shown in Article 51 of the United Nations Charter,” Biden wrote in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and President pro tempore of the Senate Patrick Leahy.
Biden ordered airstrikes Thursday against centers in eastern Syria that the Pentagon states are utilized by Iranian-backed militia. The Defense Department stated multiple centers were damaged at a border control point and there fell, but did not provide any additional information.
Those strikes came in action to a Feb. 15 attack in which rockets hit Erbil International Airport, which hosts a coalition military base, in northern Iraq. The attack killed a civilian specialist with the U.S.-led military coalition and injured several others, including an American service member.
“I directed this military action to safeguard and safeguard our workers and our partners versus these attacks and future such attacks,” Biden composed in his letter Saturday.
The letter comes as some Senate Democrats have actually pushed back versus Biden over the strikes, calling on him to provide a rundown why military action was taken without congressional approval. Under the War Powers Resolution, presidents are needed to notify Congress within 48 hours after taking military action. In the letter, Biden cited his constitutional authority as leader in chief.
“I directed this military action constant with my duty to secure United States residents both in your home and abroad and in furtherance of United States nationwide security and diplomacy interests, pursuant to my constitutional authority to conduct United States foreign relations and as Leader in Chief and President,” Biden wrote.
The Pentagon informed leaders in Congress prior to the military strikes, according to a National Security Council spokesperson. Home Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s staff were likewise informed prior to the strike, according to a Democratic aide.
Iran condemned the U.S. air campaign on Saturday and rejected duty for the rocket attacks on U.S. targets. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the U.S. strikes were “prohibited and an infraction of Syria’s sovereignty,” according to reports from Iran’s state media.
— CNBC’s Christian Nunley and Reuters contributed to this report.