UN Security Council approval for military operations against Daesh does not override Syrian sovereignty or permit US forces to operate there without government permission, analysts told Sputnik.
On Monday, Mattis said that the presence of the United States in Syria had been approved by the United Nations as Washington was engaged in the fight against Daesh terrorist group.
The Russian Defense Ministry on Tuesday, however, said that the US military refused to launch airstrikes against Daesh forces that were fleeing Syria’s Al Bukamal, citing the Geneva convention. The development seemed to contradict Mattis’ entire justification for US operations in Syria.
LACK OF LEGITIMACY
The US presence in Syria has been repeatedly criticized by Damascus, which stressed that any foreign military operation taking place without government approval would be considered an illegal invasion.
The UN Security Council has never given Washington permission for military operations in Syria and no such justification exists under international law, historian and Middle East analyst Helena Cobban, a leading expert on Syria told Sputnik on Tuesday.
"There is no legitimacy under international law for the US to be conducting any military operations in Syria," Cobban said.
The UN Security Council had called for international cooperation against Daesh, but they had never approved any measure to challenge or ignore national rights, Cobban recalled.
"Yes, there is a general call from the Security Council for governments to take actions against IS [Daesh], but that by no means over-rides national-sovereignty considerations," she said.
If the UN Security Council call for action against IS was distorted out of its real meaning the way the United states had done to justify its presence against Syria, then any country could intervene in the internal affairs of any other country using similar specious reasoning, Cobban explained.
For example, "If we should all unite to fight Ebola, it doesn't mean the US can swoop in to any country where it hasn't been invited, claiming that that is what it is doing," Cobban said.
US INTERVENTION IN SYRIA
Author and political activist David Swanson told Sputnik that the UN Security Council had never authorized any war-making activity in Syria.
"The UN has not authorized any war making in Syria; nor is [current US military activity in Syria] defensive on behalf of any of the outside nations joining in," he said.
Swanson observed that the day after Mattis’ controversial comments claiming international legal justification for US military activities in Syria, the Senate had debated the legalities of when a president could use nuclear weapons without any reference to international law at all.
"On Tuesday the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing to debate whether a US president has the legal right to nuke foreign nations. While global debates about war and law always focus on international law, US debates completely and utterly exclude it," he said.
Yet war-making was clearly illegal under international law according to the 1928 Kellogg-Briand Pact and the 1945 United Nations charter, Swanson pointed out.
"Nobody ever mentioned the Kellogg-Briand Pact or the UN Charter. Their [senate] debate was over whether it is more legal for a president to nuke people or for Congress to do it," he said.
The nature of the Senate debate which was widely covered within the United States would appear irrelevant to citizens of Syria or other countries who were the victims of continued US air strikes, Swanson said.
"I cannot imagine someone beneath a bomb in Syria caring whether the distant country that dropped it followed the proper legislative procedure," he said.
Russia began its operation against Daesh in Syria after the request of the Damascus government. Russia launched its military operation in Syria on September 30, 2015, at the request of the Syrian government.