Canada Debates Legality Of Airstrike Mission Into Syria

By @ibtimesau on
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IN PHOTO: Smoke rises after what activists said was an airstrike on Atimah, Idlib province, March 8, 2015. An air strike in northwestern Syria hit a camp used by the al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front on Sunday, killing at least nine of its fighters, a monitoring group said, in the second big attack on the group there in four days.The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said four of the dead were foreign fighters. The air strike hit close to Atimah at the Syrian border with Turkey in Idlib province. REUTERS/Ammar Abdullah REUTERS/Ammar Abdullah

Canadian opposition leader Thomas Mulcair implied the country might as well get ready for a possible international lawsuit should it pursue extending and expanding its military airstrike mission against the ISIS Daesh into Syria by a year. The Canadian MPs have tabled Monday evening as voting day for the critical issue.

Mulcair, along with fellow NDP national defence critic Jack Harris, said the extension and expansion is highly irregular without the explicit request from Syria through its president Bashar al-Assad, or a United Nations mandate, or a NATO official backing. The airstrikes launched against ISIS Daesh targets in Iraq was different because the latter’s government requested for it.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper had openly declared that Canada "will not seek the express consent of the Syrian government" to launch strikes in northeastern Syria against ISIS targets.​ His statement in anchored on Article 51 of the UN Charter, which gives a country the right to defend itself if it is subject to an armed attack. On that, “ISIS presents a credible, immediate and global threat that under Article 51 provides grounds for a tenable argument for strikes in Syria,” CBC reports.

The two opposition party members have been clamouring for the basis of the request for extension and expansion because to them, Mr Harper’s decision just stemmed from a desire to just join the fray. “You can't hide behind someone else's actions. This is about Canada. What is the Prime Minister of Canada basing himself on? What is the legal authority for bombing in that country?” Mulcair said. Harris finds it incomprehensible that Canada’s “only excuse” to do the extension and expansion is because “everyone else is doing it, so we are going to.”

Harris told HuffPost that Canada had always been known as one to uphold international law as much as it can. But the mission against the ISIS Daesh is testing that strength.

“The U.S. are doing it and they have reasons that are not well accepted, and some of the Arab states, they are the only people who are there,” Harris said. While no one stopped the mentioned countries, “that doesn’t mean that it is legal,” he said.

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