Rally in memorial of Qassem Soleimani in Tehran
Rally in memorial of Qassem Soleimani in Tehran Reuters

The White House on Saturday sent to Congress formal notification of Friday’s US drone strike that killed top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani, congressional aides said, according to Reuters.

The move came amid complaints from Democrats that President Donald Trump did not notify lawmakers or seek advance approval for the attack.

The notification was sent under a 1973 U.S. law called the War Powers Act, which requires the administration to notify Congress within 48 hours of committing armed forces to military action or imminent actions.

Trump’s administration was expected to explain the circumstances, the authority under which the action was taken and the expected scope and duration of the military involvement.

The White House declined to comment.

The version submitted to Congress is classified and it is not clear if the White House will release an unclassified version, two senior congressional aides told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said after the notification was sent to Congress, “This classified War Powers Act notification delivered to Congress raises more questions than it answers. This document prompts serious and urgent questions about the timing, manner and justification of the Administration’s decision to engage in hostilities against Iran. The highly unusual decision to classify this document in its entirety compounds our many concerns, and suggests that the Congress and the American people are being left in the dark about our national security.”

“As Speaker of the House, I reiterate my call on the Administration for an immediate, comprehensive briefing of the full Congress on military engagement related to Iran and next steps under consideration. The Administration must work with the Congress to advance a bonafide de-escalatory strategy that prevents further violence,” added Pelosi in a statement.

Republican lawmakers welcomed the elimination of Soleimani but the Democrats were critical of Trump for failing to notify Congress in advance.

Among those who condemned the move was former US Vice President and Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden who said, "Trump just tossed a stick of dynamite into a tinderbox, and he owes the American people an explanation of the strategy and plan to keep safe our troops and embassy personnel, our people and our interests, both here at home & abroad, & our partners throughout the region.”

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), another Democratic presidential hopeful, was also critical of the move.

“Soleimani was a murderer, responsible for the deaths of thousands, including hundreds of Americans. But this reckless move escalates the situation with Iran and increases the likelihood of more deaths and new Middle East conflict. Our priority must be to avoid another costly war,” she tweeted.

Senator Bernie Sanders, another contender among Democrats seeking to run against Trump in November’s presidential election, said on Saturday that Congress must take immediate steps to restrain Trump “from plunging our nation into yet another endless war.”