Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
(June 28, 2021) — Details are emerging on the overnight US attacks against the border area of Iraq and Syria. One of the strikes killed a child, and wounded three civilians when it hit a residential area.
That missile strike hit an area in al-Bukamal, the main border crossing city in Syria leading to Iraq. There is no indication why the US thought this residential area was a military target, though US officials maintain that the strikes were valid as “self-defense.”
The US strikes were meant to target an Iraqi Shi’ite militia, Ketaib Hezbollah, under the pretense that the group is an “Iranian-backed militia.” The militia, and other allied Iraqi militias, are now threatening “open war” in retaliation.
The Pentagon’s statement on the US attack claimed the two strikes in Syria hit “weapons storage facilities.” This is clearly not the case if that missile is any indication, as it hit a civilian home in a relatively small city.
The US further suggested that the targets were related to drone attacks against US forces in Iraq. The US forces in Iraq and Syria are likely to face further attacks now, as the strikes are provoking retaliation already.
Iraq Militia Declares ‘Open War’
Militia Groups Vow Revenge Over Sunday US Strikes
(June 28, 2021) — US strikes in Iraq and Syria overnight didn’t take long to provoke a reaction, despite claims that the strikes were a “deterrent.” US troops in Syria were under rocket attacks within a matter of hours.
Details are still emerging, though the US says that there are no casualties so far. This is just the start of the problem though, with the targeted militia vowing “open war with the American occupation.”
US troops reportedly came under rocket fire in northeastern Syria, and US troops responded with artillery fire. Secretary of State Tony Blinken said that the US is ready to act further.
Iraq’s umbrella militia Hashd al-Shaabi says four Iraqis were killed in the US attacks, and promised to “wreak vengeance on the perpetrators of this heinous crime.” In the attack on Syria, the US killed at least one civilian child.
In addition to attacks in Syria, the group is threatening to target US aircraft and fire missiles against US bases in Iraq.
Many in Iraq are calling for revenge, while Iran issued a statement warning Biden that he is headed down the wrong path. Biden has touted this as a message to Iran.
Iraqi Govt Seeks Legal Options to Prevent More US Attacks
Cabinet: Sunday Strike Was a Violation of Iraqi Sovereignty
Washington ordered simultaneous airstrikes using F-15 and F-16s to rain precision-guided munitions on two targets in Syria and one in Iraq.
(June 28, 2021) — President Joe Biden seems quite pleased with the result of the Sunday night attacks on areas along the border between Iraq and Syria. He’s about the only one, as the targets threaten open war, and Iraq is openly condemning the US violation of Iraqi sovereignty.
To that end, Iraq is promising to study all legal options to the US attack, intending to legally preclude future US attacks. Details are unclear, though this underscores Iraq’s opposition to the attack.
That said, if opposition to the legality of American attacks was enough to stop them, the US wouldn’t be attacking nearly so many things. A US hand-wave about self-defense is usually all that is needed, or offered.
Iraq’s Prime Minister Kadhimi has long sought close ties with the US, but was very public in his criticism of the new US attacks. So far, there is no indication that the US is considering not launching further attacks, and instead is focusing on how pleased they were with this.
Biden’s Strikes Fuel New Debate on Iraq War Powers
Move to Repeal 2002 AUMF Followed by US Attacks
(June 28, 2021) — Earlier this month, the House passed a measure to repeal the 2002 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF), part of the authorization surrounding the 2003 US invasion of Iraq. The repeal had bipartisan support, and President Biden also supported the idea.
Decades after the invasion and occupation of Iraq, many in Congress argued it was time to get rid of the blank check to prevent future abuses. Ironically, President Biden followed up this vote by attacking targets Iraq and Syria.
Despite trying to justify the narrative of the attack as “self-defense,” it is almost certain that when it comes down to it, the Biden Administration will fall back on the same vague AUMFs that everyone else uses to justify acts of war.
This is fueling more debate over the AUMF, and what the US is meant to be authorized to do around the Middle East. Many in Congress believe that the answer is something short of “whatever the president wants.”
This has been part of why the AUMFs never get properly repealed, as presidents are generally supportive of changes, in light of the near-constant abuses of power they encourage, but once they take office they prefer to hold off on anything that threatens their own flexibility to abuse those same powers.
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