Syria condemns ‘cowardly aggression’ by US as Biden says he wanted to send Iran message about ‘impunity’

The Syrian government denounced the US airstrike on the border with Iraq as an act of aggression contrary to international law, as President Joe Biden told reporters he ordered the strike as a warning to Iran.

“The Syrian Arab Republic condemns in the strongest terms the US aggression against its sovereignty,” the foreign ministry in Damascus said on Friday, calling Thursday’s strikes in the Deir-ez-Zor province an act of “cowardly aggression” and “flagrant violation of the rules of international law and UN Charter.”

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Washington said the US airstrike targeted “Iranian backed militant groups including Kait’ib Hezbollah and Kait’ib Sayyid al Shuhad” near the town of Al-Bukamal, on the Syrian-Iraqi border, and was retaliation for recent rocket attacks on facilities in Iraq used by US troops and contractors stationed there. 

Iran has denied any responsibility for the attacks. An obscure Shia militia group calling itself Saraya Awliya al-Dam claimed responsibility for targeting the Erbil international airport, earlier this month.

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FILE PHOTO: Paratroopers from the U.S. Army's 82nd Airborne Division  at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, U.S. January 23, 2020. © REUTERS/Jonathan Drake
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Visiting Houston, Texas on Friday, to survey the damage from last week’s winter storms and blackouts, Biden was asked what message he intended to send to Iran with the airstrikes.

“You can’t act with impunity. Be careful,” he said, in the only comment about the strikes that came from him personally.

The Syrian government, however, pointed out that the bombing sent “a message of American disregard for the role of international legitimacy in resolving the crisis in Syria,” as it coincided with the visit of UN Special Envoy for Syria Geir Pedersen to Damascus.

Denouncing the presence on Syrian soil of “Israeli, American and Turkish forces,” the government in Damascus also said it was determined “to restore every inch of [Syrian] land and liberate it from the occupation and terrorism.”

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