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Report: Biden called off a second Syria airstrike last week

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Last week, President Joe Biden called off an airstrike in Syria after intelligence revealed last-minute that there was a woman and some children at the site, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

After 10 days of deliberations, Biden had ordered the Pentagon to conduct airstrikes on two Iranian-supported militia targets in Syria on February 26, according to the report, in his first known use of force.

However, according to battlefield reconnaissance delivered about 30 minutes before the bombs were set to drop, a woman and a couple of children were in the courtyard at one of the sites. With the F-15Es en route to the targets, the president bailed on the second target but let the strike on the first target go ahead.

Biden was highly criticized by both the political left and right for the airstrike carried out.

The goal of the airstrike was to signal to Iran that the new White House team would respond to a February 15 rocket attack in northern Iraq against the U.S.-led coalition but wasn’t aiming to escalate a confrontation with Tehran, senior administration officials reportedly told The Journal, describing the days leading to the strike in interviews with the newspaper.

RELATED: Rocket strike reported near U.S. Embassy in Baghdad

To reinforce the point, a confidential message was sent to Tehran after the U.S. airstrike, administration officials said, though without providing details, according to the newspaper.

“We had a pretty coordinated diplomatic and military plan here,” one administration official reportedly said. “We made sure the Iranians knew what our intent was.”

Another major goal was to avoid undermining the political position of Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, whom Washington sees as a partner in the fight against Islamic State and would likely have faced criticism at home if the attacks had occurred on Iraqi soil, the officials reportedly added.

From the start, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, the only senior member of Biden’s cabinet with military experience, reassured the president that he could take his time to decide how to respond militarily, according to The Journal.

“You own the clock,” Austin reportedly advised Biden in the White House meeting immediately following the attack in Erbil, a second administration official who participated in the session told the newspaper.

The president tried to justify the strike the day after it, arguing in a letter to Congress that it was necessary for defending U.S. troops.

Those non-state militia groups were involved in recent attacks against United States and Coalition personnel in Iraq,” Biden wrote, citing the February 15 attack as an example.

“These groups are also engaged in ongoing planning for future such attacks,” he added.

“In response, I directed this military action to protect and defend our personnel and our partners against these attacks and future such attacks,” Biden continued.

“The United States always stands ready to take necessary and proportionate action in self-defense, including when, as is the case here, the government of the state where the threat is located is unwilling or unable to prevent the use of its territory by non-state militia groups responsible for such attacks.

“I directed this military action consistent with my responsibility to protect United States citizens both at home and abroad and in furtherance of United States national security and foreign policy interests, pursuant to my constitutional authority to conduct United States foreign relations and as Commander in Chief and Chief Executive.”

READ THE FULL ORIGINAL WALL STREET JOURNAL REPORT HERE.

You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.

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U.S. Commerce Department: Chinese firms are supplying Russian entities

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On Tuesday, the United States Commerce Department said several companies in China are supplying Russia’s military. The announcement was made alongside a “new round of blacklist restrictions for foreign firms aiding Moscow’s war against Ukraine” reports National Review.

“These entities have previously supplied items to Russian entities of concern before February 24, 2022 and continue to contract to supply Russian entity listed and sanctioned parties after Russia’s further invasion of Ukraine,” stated an official Commerce Department notice posted to the Federal Register.

“Commerce also blacklisted several Chinese companies and Chinese government research institutes for their work on naval-technology and supplying Iran with U.S. tech in a way that harms America’s national security” adds National Review.

Six companies that are helping further the Russian invasion are also based in Lithuania, Russia, the U.K., Uzbekistan, and Vietnam.

National Review reports:

The Commerce Department stopped short of blaming the Chinese government for the sanctions-evasion activity it identified today. Commerce secretary Gina Raimondo previously said that there doesn’t appear to be any “systemic efforts by China to go around our export controls.” The Biden administration has publicly and privately warned Beijing against supporting the Russian war, with White House officials even leaking to the press about an effort to present China’s ambassador in Washington with information about Russian troop movements ahead of the invasion.

While Beijing has not expressed outright support for the invasion, it has used its propaganda networks to back Moscow’s narrative. Meanwhile, top Chinese and Russian officials have moved to solidify the “no-limits” partnership they declared in early February. General secretary Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin held a call this month, marking the construction of a new bridge between their two countries, during which they reiterated their support for the burgeoning geopolitical alignment.

National-security adviser Jake Sullivan said last month that the U.S. has no indications that Beijing has provided Russia with military equipment. A Finnish think tank, the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air, estimated on June 12 that Chinese imports of Russian oil since the outset of the conflict have amounted to $13 billion, making China the biggest consumer of the country’s oil exports. Previously, it was Germany. “While Germany cut back on purchases since the start of the war, China’s oil and gas imports from Russia rose in February and remained at a roughly constant level since,” the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission noted.

Official advisor Anton Gerashchenko tweeted incredible video of Ukrainian soldiers sweeping through fields, writing “this is how our fields are de-mined so that farmers can harvest crops.”  On Monday a Russian missile struck a mall in Kremenchuk, Ukraine, where over 1,000 civilians were inside.

“Almost two dozen people were still missing Tuesday one day after a Russian airstrike struck a Ukrainian shopping mall and killed 18 civilians inside…On top of the 18 dead and 21 people missing, Ukrainian Interior Minster Denis Monastyrsky said 59 were injured. Several of the dead were burned beyond recognition” reported the New York Post.

 

 

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