U.S. strikes on Syrian forces ‘completely illegal’

WASHINGTON — Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., on Wednesday sharply condemned U.S. strikes on Syrian regime forces — like the shoot-down of a military jet over the weekend — as “completely illegal.”

“I think the military action that is being taken against Syrian government assets is completely illegal,” Kaine said in an interview with Yahoo News on Sirius XM’s politics channel, POTUS.

There have been four known instances of U.S. forces firing on Syrian government targets in recent weeks, including the early April cruise missile strike in retaliation for the government’s use of chemical weapons. Over the weekend, a U.S. Navy fighter shot down a Syrian warplane. The Pentagon says it has legal authority to act under the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF), passed after the 9/11 attacks, which effectively permitted the invasion of Afghanistan and global efforts to stamp out al-Qaida. Both George W. Bush and Barack Obama cited that legislation as the legal justification for the global war on terrorism.

Kaine, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, bluntly disagreed with the Trump administration’s position.

“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.”

Kaine, Hillary Clinton’s 2016 running mate, also blamed “political cowardice” as a factor in congressional resistance to debating and voting to authorize the nearly three-year war on the so-called Islamic State, also known as ISIS, in places like Syria.

“Part of this is, in my view, political cowardice — not wanting to be on the record on a war vote,” Kaine said.

Previous attempts to push Congress to debate and authorize the escalating but undeclared war on the terrorist army in Syria and Iraq…

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