US Senator Tim Kaine: US strikes on Syrian forces ‘completely illegal’

June 22, 2017 10:30 pm

Senator Tim Kaine

US Senator Tim Kaine has sharply condemned US military strikes on Syrian government forces as “completely illegal.”
“I think the military action that is being taken against Syrian government assets is completely illegal,” Kaine, a Democrat from Virginia, said on Wednesday in an interview with Yahoo .
The US military has attacked Syrian government forces at least four times in recent months, including a missile strike in April against a Syrian airfield from which Washington said a deadly chemical weapons attack was launched. And last week, a US Navy fighter shot down a Syrian warplane.
The US Defense Department says it has legal authority to attack Syria under the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF), passed after the September 11, 2001 terror attacks, which effectively permitted the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq.
Former presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama cited that legislation as the legal justification for the so-called war on terrorism.
Kaine, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, bluntly disagrees with the Pentagon’s position to attack Syria.
“The 2001 authorization said we can take action against the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks. Nobody claims that Syria was a perpetrator. Nobody claims that they are connected to al-Qaida. In fact, they’re battling against al-Qaida in Syria,” Kaine countered. “So I think this is a completely unlawful use of power.”
US President Donald Trump has ordered increased military operations in Syria and delegated more authority to his generals despite lacking a comprehensive strategy, an approach that may spark a confrontation with Syria, Iran and Russia, according to US officials and analysts.
“There isn’t an over-arching US strategy driving this,” said Charles Lister of the Middle East Institute.
“This is just the result of tactical decisions by a commander on the ground whose only focus is a specific theater in Syria. He is acting to protect his assets … This is purely a series of tactical decisions that are creating a series of very serious strategic consequences.”
Russia and Iran are both assisting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to fight Daesh (ISIL) and other terrorist groups wreaking havoc in Syria.
The larger problem, the officials and analysts said, is that Trump and his national security team have not prepared a long-term political strategy for dealing with Syria.
“We have never had a coherent Syrian strategy,” said one US official, speaking on condition of anonymity. “We oppose Assad, but our main enemy is ISIS, which also opposes Assad. Our most capable allies are the (Kurdish) peshmerga, but Turkey, who is a NATO ally and host to an airbase that is central to our efforts, considers the Kurds enemies.”
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