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The Epoch Times
The Epoch Times
25 Mar 2023

NextImg:Biden Says US Doesn't Seek Conflict With Iran But Prepared to 'Act Forcefully'

President Joe Biden said Friday that the United States doesn’t seek conflict with Iran but is prepared to act forcefully to protect American lives after he authorized a strike targeting Iranian-affiliated assets in Syria in retaliation for an Iranian drone attack.

During a press conference with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Ottawa, Biden offered condolences to the family of the American contractor killed in an Iranian drone attack on a coalition base in Syria on March 23.

“My heart and deepest condolences go out to the family of the American we lost, and we wish a speedy recovery for those who are wounded,” Biden said.

The Pentagon said an Iranian-backed militant group used an unmanned aerial vehicle to strike a maintenance facility in northeast Syria, killing one U.S. citizen and wounding several others. Two wounded service members were treated on site while three were medically evacuated to coalition medical facilities in Iraq.

In response to the drone attack, Biden ordered a series of strikes in eastern Syria against facilities affiliated with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC).

“We will take all necessary measures to defend our people and will always respond at a time and place of our choosing,” said Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin, in a statement. “No group will strike our troops with impunity.”

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Saturday that the U.S. strike left 19 people dead.

President Joe Biden speaks during a joint news conference with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, in Ottawa, Canada, on March 24, 2023. (Blair Gable/Reuters)

Speaking at the press conference in Canada, Biden said the airstrikes in Syria targeted those responsible for attacking U.S. personnel while warning against actions targeting Americans in the region.

“Make no mistake: The United States does not—does not, I emphasize—seek conflict with Iran, but be prepared for us to act forcefully to protect our people,” the president warned.

“That’s exactly what happened last night,” the president added. “And we’re going to continue to keep up our efforts to counter terrorist threats in the region, in partnerships with Canada and other members of the coalition, to defeat ISIS.”

The U.S. airstrike marked the first military action taken by Biden since taking office.

Pentagon spokesperson Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder told reporters Friday that the operation was intended “to send a very clear message that we will take the protection of our personnel seriously, and that we will respond quickly and decisively if they are threatened.”

Ryder described the strikes as “proportionate and deliberate action intended to limit the risk of escalation to minimize casualties.”

“We do not seek conflict with Iran,” Ryder said, echoing Biden’s remarks. “But the strikes that we took last night were intended to send a very clear message that we will take the protection of our personnel seriously and that we will respond quickly and decisively, if they’re threatened.”

Following Friday’s airstrike by U.S. forces, groups affiliated with Iran reportedly launched another round of rockets targeting American assets.

U.S. officials said that multiple drones were launched at the Green Village in northeast Syria, where American troops are based. According to officials, no one was injured in those strikes.

The United States has around 900 troops in eastern Syria to assist Syrian Kurdish forces in preventing the ISIS terror group from making a resurgence.

CENTCOM commander Gen. Erik Kurilla said Thursday that Iranian proxies have attacked U.S. troops in Iraq and Syria nearly 80 times since Biden took office, using drones and rockets.

U.S. Joint Chiefs Chair Army General Mark Milley speaks with U.S. forces in Syria during an unannounced visit, at a U.S. military base in Northeast Syria, on March 4, 2023. (Phil Stewart/Reuters)

Republican lawmakers criticized Biden’s response to the Iranian drone attack.

In a tweet Friday, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) called the response “weak” and said that Biden and his national security team “are letting America down.”

“I fear General Milley and Secretary of Defense Austin are not proving to be up to the task of providing the deterrence America needs to remain safe. However, the ultimate blame for the failing foreign policy and military situation we find ourselves in lies with President Biden,” Graham wrote.

“President Biden owes it to those Americans fighting radical Islam to respond vigorously to any attack on them and their position by Iranian proxies. The weak, uncertain response to the initial attack obviously did not work,” Graham continued.

“America has only one path available when attacked—respond swiftly and vigorously with overwhelming, punishing force designed to make enemies wary of engaging with the United States. Being strong is the best deterrence against future attacks,” he added.

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), argued that Biden’s strikes were too little, too late.

“Indefensible that American life must be lost before Joe Biden acts,” Cotton wrote in a tweet.

“Had he responded in force to dozens of earlier Iranian attacks, this tragedy could have been prevented. [Austin] needs to explain why he isn’t doing more to deter Iran.”