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Does US Have A Legal Right To ‘Defend’ Syrian Rebels With Airstrikes?

The US State Dept. 'frankly doesn't know' what the legal authority is behind US airstrikes supporting Syrian rebels

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The US State Department seems to believe that the latest decision to use airstrikes to bomb Syrian government forces to defend US trained “moderate Syrian rebels” does not require any additional legal justification.

However, critics are questioning what authority the White House has to go ahead with such a mission after minimal consultation with the UN Security Council.

Co-director of the International Action Center Sara Flounders believes that the entire idea of “defending” mercenary forces, armed and trained by the US, on a territory of sovereign nations is an aggressive and criminal act against Syria

The State Department deputy spokesperson Mark Toner tries to explain the legal basis for the change in US policy in an interview with RT’s Gayane Chichakya (see video below)

He told RT: “I frankly don’t know what the legal authority is,” Toner said, adding that the situation in Syria remains “complex and fluid.”

He clarified that Washington did not authorize itself to “go after Assad government forces,” insisting that such bombings would take place only in the “hypothetical” case that the US-backed militants would come under fire from Syrian forces.

“We’ve been carrying out airstrikes in that region for many months now, almost a year – and the same – in defense of these groups, but also to help them gain territory back from ISIL,” the spokesman stated, referring to Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) by the administration’s standard acronym for the militants.

“Any type of effort to protect them from Syrian forces would be defensive in nature,” he claimed. “But I’m not going to talk about the legal framework for it.”

When pressed to admit that the latest announcement is a major change in US policy in Syria, Toner said he would “respectfully disagree.”

“There’s no change in the legal framework,” he said. “Our main goal is to take the fight against ISIL. Nothing’s changed in that regard.”

According to US officials the Pentagon was authorized by President Obama to protect Syrian rebels trained by Washington by bombing any force attacking them, including Syrian regular troops. However, neither the Pentagon nor the White House officially commented on the decision about the new broader rules of engagement

  • Anti

    Isn’t this WAR? that the FASCIST STATE of MERIKA has called on Syria??

    Merika needs to be taken down several pegs in its arrogance and ignorance of other nations.

  • fatwillie

    If the situation was reversed what would the people of the USA and or its people in government think? Hoping this can be answered honestly and not with the hypocrisy that USA displays more often then not.

  • Greg Burton

    Carol,

    Let me answer like this: Does the US have the right, nay the unmitigated temerity to now contend that they can support the very same Islamic rebels, whether “Syrian rebels”, or ISIS, or “al Qaeda” all of whom it can be demonstrably shown to have been created by the British, inter-connected cadres, a history of being supported by Washington, the UK, and the Israeli long before 9/11, AT THE TIME OF 9/11, and now afterwards that have been used as the pretext to impoverish, betray, and enslave America?

    Do you really think we’re that stupid? Gullible?