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Biden gives War Powers notification to Congress

President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the passage of S. 2938, the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, June 25, 2022, at the White House. (Official White House Photo by Erin Scott)
November 10, 2023

President Joe Biden officially notified Congress last Friday that he ordered targeted military strikes against Iran-backed facilities in Syria in response to a “series of attacks” against U.S. forces in Syria and Iraq by Iran-backed terrorist groups.

Biden’s letter to Speaker of the House Mike Johnson Senate Pro Tempore President Patty Murray on Friday represented a formality required by the War Powers Resolution. Under the War Powers Resolution, the president is required by law to notify Congress of the president’s use of military force.

In his letter, Biden explained that terrorist groups associated with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) carried out a “series of attacks against United States personnel and facilities” in both Syria and Iraq beginning on Oct. 17. Biden said the Iran-backed groups carried out the attacks by using “unmanned aerial systems and indirect fire,” which injured multiple United States service members and led to the “fatal cardiac incident” of a U.S. contractor in the Middle East during a shelter-in-place.

READ MORE: US military strikes facilities in Syria used by Iran

“These attacks have placed under grave threat the lives of United States personnel and of Coalition forces operating alongside United States forces,” the president stated. “In response to this series of attacks and continuing threats of future attacks, at my direction, on the night of October 26, 2023, United States forces conducted targeted strikes against facilities in eastern Syria.”

Biden noted that the “precision strikes” conducted by the U.S. military specifically targeted facilities used by IRGC and Iran-backed terrorist groups for command operations, the storage of munitions, and for other purposes.

“The strikes were intended to establish deterrence and were conducted in a manner to limit the risk of escalation and avoid civilian casualties,” Biden added. “I directed the strikes in order to protect and defend our personnel, to degrade and disrupt the ongoing series of attacks against the United States and our partners, and to deter Iran and Iran-backed militia groups from conducting or supporting further attacks on United States personnel and facilities.” 

Biden informed Congress that he ordered the military strikes against Iran-backed terror organizations as part of his “responsibility” to protect American citizens across the globe and in order to protect the “national security and foreign policy interests” of the United States. Biden emphasized that the military strikes were “necessary and proportionate,” as well as “consistent with international law” under the United Nations charter.

In addition to providing a rationale and an overview of the military strikes against Iran-backed groups, Biden warned that the military is prepared to take additional steps to defend its interests if needed.

“The United States stands ready to take further action, as necessary and appropriate, to address further threats or attacks,” he concluded.

The U.S. military strikes against Iran-affiliated groups comes amidst the war between Israel and Hamas in the Middle East; however, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin emphasized last week that the “narrowly tailored strikes” were “solely” meant to “protect and defend” U.S. service members in Syria and Iraq.

“They are separate and distinct from the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, and do not constitute a shift in our approach to the Israel-Hamas conflict,” he stated. “We continue to urge all state and non-state entities not to take action that would escalate into a broader regional conflict.”