US Defense Secretary Mark Esper says the U.S. has the constitutional authority to strike Iranian proxies in Iraq, Iran and its soil in retaliation for attacks on American forces.
In an interview with NPR, Esper has said the Authorization for Use of Military Force Resolution gives the U.S. military the right to attack Iranian-backed proxies in Iraq. He said the president’s power under Article II of the Constitution would allow the U.S. to strike Iran in the event that U.S. interests are targeted.
“We hold Iran responsible for its proxies, and we will retain the right to exercise self-defense and take action where legally available and appropriate to hold those proxies accountable for their actions,” Esper told NPR.
Esper doubled down on the Trump administration’s position that the U.S. killed powerful Iranian general Qassem Soleimani out of self-defense.
“There was complete agreement based on what he had done and what he was planning to do, the broader attack that he was orchestrating in the region that would be bigger in scale and would likely result in open hostilities, that this was a compelling target to take out,” Esper said.
“The United States is safer today than we were a few weeks ago because we eliminated the world’s foremost terror, Qassem Soleimani, who has the blood of hundreds of American soldiers and Marines on his hands.”