(CNSNews.com) – NSC spokesman John Kirby said Friday that the United States does not seek a conflict with Iran despite attacking Iran-affiliated sites in Syria following a drone strike that killed on American and injured 5 U.S. troops.
Speaking to “CNN This Morning,” Kirby said that President Biden “had a discussion with his national security team on the way” to Ottawa, Canada, “in the wake of the drone strike on our base in Syria and received recommendations from Defense Department leaders and the intelligence community about what response options could look like.”
“He made the decision very, very shortly in that discussion to authorize these strikes against these particular targets,” he said.
Kirby said the U.S. contractor’s family was notified on Thursday, and are being given time and space to grieve, but he said the contractor was “working for us at that particular base.”
As to what the U.S. can do to keep American troops and contractors safe there, Kirby said, “Well, the actions that we took yesterday are part and parcel that effort,” adding that “we’re going to work to protect our people and our facilities as best we can.”
“It’s a dangerous environment. You said it at the top we’re there to defeat ISIS, to ensure the enduring defeat of ISIS. They are still a threat in Syria. They are still a threat in Iraq nowhere near what they were back in 2014, of course, but they’re still there. They’re still plotting. They’re still planning there. They’re still resourcing,” he said.
“They’re still training, and obviously they’re still capable of conducting operations, and we’ve got militant groups that that are supported by Iran, that are the ones conducting these attacks against our troops and our facilities. We’re going to continue to do whatever we can to defend themselves, and if we have to retaliate like we did yesterday. We’ll do that,” Kirby said.
Asked whether this can be considered an act of war by Iran, he said, “We don’t seek a war with Iran. We’re not looking for an armed conflict with that country or another war in the region. We do seek to protect our mission in Syria, which is about defeating ISIS, and we do seek to make sure we can protect our people and our facilities against these Iran-backed groups.
“These are militant groups that Iran is funding, resourcing, even training, and they’ve got facilities there. Iran and the IRGC has facilities there in Syria, from which a lot of that resourcing and training and facilitation occurs and it was against some of those targets again that we that we struck back last night,” Kirby said.
When asked how these attacks can be prevented, Kirby said, “Look we’re not seeking a conflict with Iran as I said. We’ve been very clear with the Iranians and with our partners about how serious we are— the mission that we’re doing in Syria is and how much we’re going to protect that mission. Iran should not be involved in supporting these attacks on our facilities or on our people. We’ve made that very, very clear.
“We’re going to continue to be vigilant, to monitor this as best we can. But look, I think if you broaden this back out a little bit, you’ve got a country in Iran, who is supporting now drone strikes in Ukraine, helping Mr. Putin continue to kill innocent Ukrainian. You have innocent Ukrainians,” he said.
“You have Iran supporting terrorist groups throughout the Middle East, whether it’s Hamas or Hezbollah, targeting our allies and partners in Israel, and of course, you’ve got Iran conducting maritime threats to shipping in and out of the Persian Gulf,” Kirby said.
“They’re continuing to grow a burgeoning ballistic missile programs. So to your question what we’ve got to do is make sure that we have adequate military capabilities to meet our security requirements throughout the region to counter into towards Iran’s destabilizing behavior, and we’re going to do that,” he said.
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