Russia, Syria Condemn U.S. Strike

Syria condemned a U.S. military strike carried out Thursday night against a Syrian airfield, stating the move makes the United States a “partner” to militant groups (WaPo) like the self-proclaimed Islamic State. A Kremlin spokesman (NYT) said the missile launch “deals a significant blow to relations between Russia and America.” European Council President Donald Tusk said the “U.S. strikes show needed resolve against barbaric chemical attacks,” while leaders from Britain, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey (Al Jazeera) also expressed support. The Pentagon confirmed it launched fifty-nine missiles toward the same airfield where the United States believes Syrian aircraft took off to carry out a chemical weapons attack on the town of Khan Sheikhoun earlier this week; the Syrian government has denied (Al Jazeera) carrying out the chemical attack. Moscow said it was given notice of the U.S. attack (AP) ahead of time. The attack killed seven people (AP), according to the governor of Syria’s Homs province.


What legal authority for the use of force will President Trump assert under domestic and international law? As a matter of domestic law, President Trump presumably relied on his Article II powers as Commander-in-Chief. The White House will likely file a report consistent with the War Powers Resolution tonight or tomorrow explaining the authority the President is asserting. Congress has not enacted an Authorization to Use Military Force against Syria,” CFR’s John B. Bellinger III writes for Lawfare.

“U.S. action could also trigger a broader confrontation. Russia will be understandably resistant to allegedly limited U.S. action, given how it was duped in 2011 by an international humanitarian intervention in Libya that ended with the overthrow of the government. For Iran, Syria is an indispensable part of its regional security architecture, and it seems willing to escalate indefinitely if the Assad regime is threatened. Russian and Iranian forces are intermingled with those of the regime, and both countries can retaliate against U.S. interests regionally and internationally,” Sam Heller writes for Foreign Affairs.

“There is no simple or easy option. This is nothing new. But not acting can be every bit as consequential as acting. For many in the Middle East and beyond, inaction in the face of chemical weapons use became the defining moment of the Obama presidency, raising fundamental questions about its credibility,” writes CFR’s President Richard N. Haass for the Financial Times.