The White House on Friday revealed that the Biden administration briefed congressional leadership before ordering strikes one day prior on Iranian-backed militia groups in Syria. Biden also plans to give lawmakers a full classified briefing early next week, The Hill reported.
“The Department of Defense briefed Congressional leadership before the action last night. The Administration has been briefing [Capitol] Hill at the Member- and staff-level today. There will be a full classified briefing early next week at the latest,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement obtained by The Hill.
While aboard Air Force One, Psaki also told reporters that Biden ordered strikes to send an “unambiguous message” to Iran that “he’s going to act to protect Americans.”
“The president is sending an unambiguous message that he's going to act to protect Americans, and when threats are posed, he has the right to take an action at the time, and in the manner of his choosing,” Psaki explained. “He also is going to take those actions in a manner that's deliberative, and that has the objective of de-escalating activity in both Syria and Iraq,” she said.
The strikes were conducted by two F-15 Strike Eagles that dropped seven precision guided munitions, "totally destroying nine facilities and partially destroying two facilities, making them functionally destroyed,” Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby revealed on Friday.
He also confirmed that administration officials plan to hold a classified briefing next week.
Kirby also noted that the Pentagon discussed the strikes with coalition partners, and also notified the Russian government of the strikes before they took place.
During a Friday press conference, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stated that Russia was given an approximately four to five-minute warning before US forces struck Iranian-backed militias.
"Our [Russian] military was warned four or five minutes in advance. Of course, even if we talk about deconflicting, as it is customary in relations between Russian and American military personnel, nothing [no one] gives this kind of notification when a strike is already being delivered," Lavrov said during a briefing.
France also clarified its position on the strikes, stating that it stands by the US.
“In light of these unacceptable attacks, which we have firmly condemned, we stand with our American allies,” read the statement, obtained by Reuters.
Some Democrats in Congress have censured the strikes and have requested immediate briefings.
“The American people deserve to hear the Administration’s rationale for these strikes and its legal justification for acting without coming to Congress,” Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) said in a statement, The Hill reported. “Offensive military action without congressional approval is not constitutional absent extraordinary circumstances. Congress must be fully briefed on this matter expeditiously.”
The US launched airstrikes on facilities utilized by alleged Iran-backed militias in Syria on Thursday in response to rocket attacks launched against US personnel in Iraq earlier this month. On Friday, an Iraqi militia official confirmed that the US airstrike in Syria killed one fighter and injured several others, the Associated Press reported.
Iran is a strategic ally of Syria, providing the country support in the Syrian Civil War as Iran sees the Syrian government vital to its regional interests. The US has supported Syrian rebels and the Syrian Democratic Forces during the Syrian civil war. The US has been accused of leading the intervention in Syria to retrieve large oil deposits in the country.