President Biden has launched a classified review of deadly US counterterrorism operations, the Daily Beast reported on Monday. According to National Security Council spokesperson Emily Horne, in the meantime, the president has issued interim guidance for the “use of military force and related national security operations.”
While Biden’s guidance is classified, Horne said the purpose is to give the president “full visibility on proposed significant actions in these areas.” She said the new guidance was issued when Biden first came into office, but Congress was only notified of the change on Monday.
The counterterrorism review is being led by National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, and there is no timeline on how long it will take.
The Trump administration loosened the rules of engagement for the US’s terror wars, giving the military more authority to order attacks. In Yemen and Somalia, President Trump significantly escalated the drone wars using these new authorities, bombing the countries more than George W. Bush and Barack Obama combined. The loosened rules of engagement also led to an uptick in civilian casualties in Afghanistan airstrikes.
So far, under President Biden, the only confirmed US airstrikes have been against ISIS targets in Iraq, where three strikes have been reported. The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported a suspected US drone strike in Syria, but it has not been confirmed.
In Somalia, US Africa Command’s last reported airstrike was on January 19th, President Trump’s last full day in office. This doesn’t mean covert CIA raids and drone strikes aren’t taking place, but even monitoring groups like Airwars haven’t reported suspected US strikes outside of Iraq.
While there appears to be a lull in US counterterror operations outside of Iraq, when announcing an end to US support for Saudi Arabia’s “offensive” operations in Yemen, the US assured that the war against al-Qaeda in Yemen will continue.