Syria bombing: a war crime?

Davis Corman , News Editor

On February 25, the Biden administration ordered a series of bombs to be dropped on an Iranian-backed militia in Syria. Now, as the world continues to learn more about the event, many are questioning why and if President Biden had the authority to do so.

With reports breaking the night of the attack, many were caught off guard by the president’s actions due to the fact that it was his first airstrike since taking office in January. According to NBC, within weeks of becoming president, Iran initiated “Three rocket attacks in one week in Iraq, including a deadly strike that hit a U.S.-led coalition base.” 

Consequently, Biden faced a difficult situation in which he originally intended to grow relations with a nation that now had attacked a U.S base. The president would eventually decide to retaliate through the February 25 airstrike.

In the ensuing days after the attack, conflicting reports emerged over the damage and fatalities caused by the airstrike. In a statement obtained by CNN from Pentagon spokesman John Kirby, “The strikes destroyed multiple facilities located at a border control point used by a number of Iranian-backed militant groups.” Spokesman Kirby went on to say that there were casualties, but that it was too early to know for sure how many. However, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the strikes killed at least 22 individuals. As a result, the actions by the Biden administration have prompted discussions over its legality and if it could be considered a war crime.

A professor at Notre Dame Law School, Dr. Mary Ellen, in opposition to Biden’s airstrike, explained that these actions were a violation of international law. 

“The United Nations charter makes absolutely clear that the use of military force on the territory of a foreign sovereign state is lawful only in response to an armed attack on the defending state for which the target state is responsible,” she said. “None of those elements is met in the Syria strike,” according to the The Guardian

However, the Biden administration remains adamant about their decision claiming that it was legal. Nonetheless, whether it was in violation of international law, little to nothing is expected to happen.

In the ensuing weeks, many around the world will be looking at the Biden administration, wondering if this recent airstrike will set an ongoing precedent throughout his time in office.