Former Vice President Joe Biden has authorized the United States to carry out airstrikes against Iranian-backed militias in Syria.
Mr. Biden spoke to President Trump Friday night, and told the president that “beheading men and women and children is unacceptable,” according to a senior U.S. administration official who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
The U.S. official said the retired vice president wanted President Trump to consider punishing Iran by stopping support for its militias in Syria. Mr. Biden also mentioned the American support for the Syrian Kurds, whom Iran supports and who oppose the Islamic State.
“We want to see what we can do in terms of cutting off, deterring, and, if necessary, responding to that kind of activity,” the official said.
The airstrike in Syria is the first air strike Mr. Biden has overseen for the Trump administration. It comes amid deep rifts within the Trump administration over whether to put more U.S. boots on the ground in Syria, which the administration has been reluctant to do in part because of concerns about the political consequences.
President Trump announced last year that he would withdraw all U.S. troops from Syria, even though a small contingent is still there, and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis was pushing for that to be delayed. Mr. Mattis was replaced last month by General James Mattis, who is both more aggressive about pursuing U.S. interests in Syria, and about replacing the Turkish invasion of Kurdish territory with peacekeeping forces.