‘Willful misconduct by US-led coalition forces in Syria has many consequences’

Men look for survivors inside a damaged building after an airstrike on Aleppo's rebel held Saif al-Dawla district, Syria July 2, 2016. © Abdalrhman Ismail
Carrying out operations without coordinating with the Syrian government and the army fighting on the ground makes these crimes little more than gross negligence, Daoud Khairallah, Professor of International Law at Georgetown University in Washington, told RT.

Both the US and French authorities have come under fire for the latest airstrikes in Syria which killed scores. The incident prompted outrage from both sides of the Syrian conflict.

Syrian opposition forces have called for a suspension of the US-led air campaign against Islamic State in Syria after the incident. Among the opposition groups condemning what they called a "shocking massacre" is the Western-backed Free Syrian Army.

Dozens of other opposition factions also say they will not allow crimes to be justified under the pretext of combating terrorism.

RT: Now that Western-backed opposition groups have called for a suspension of US-led coalition air strikes in Syria, do you think it will affect cooperation between these groups and the West in the region?

Daoud Khairallah: I have three observations to make with respect to this continuous series of incidents. First, operations of the members of the US-led coalition in Syria, without the approval of the Syrian government are a clear violation of international law, violation of Syrian sovereignty and territorial integrity. Second, the risk that such operations entail we have seen the consequences of serious violation of laws of war and humanitarian laws. Carrying out these operations without coordinating with the parties that are most knowledgeable about the ground, about the presence of civilians and the presence of the fighting forces: that is, the Syrian government and the Syrian army that is fighting on the ground makes these incidents or these crimes little more than gross negligence. It is a willful misconduct and it entails so many consequences. Three, this alone would cast doubt about the claim by the leader of the coalition that “we take all measures during the targeting process to avoid or minimize civilian casualties or collateral damage.” Is this serious?

“We need better coordination despite the disagreements and hostility; we need better coordination between the US-led coalition, the Syrian government and the Russians. If they shared intelligence more, if they coordinated attacks, then that might be one factor that could reduce civilian casualties. Ultimately, the real end game is to get all sides in the conflict to sit down and agree on a peaceful resolution. Conflict on any side, for any reason, anywhere in Syria is against the civilian population and not conducive to ending the conflict. We need a negotiated political settlement; we need all parties at the table,”  Peter Tatchell, human rights activist

RT: It's certainly not the first time civilians have died due to coalition air strikes and the Western campaign is struggling to bring stability to the Middle East region. Do you think cooperating with Syria's Assad is now a viable option for the West?

DK: This will depend first on the reaction of the US media. When the US media wakes up and makes its government accountable. Then, there ought to be some kind of reaction by the world community and the US’ European allies, in addition to the organizations like the United Nations and those who are empowered, those who are giving the authority to deal with settling these feuds and conducting proper measures of force whenever it is necessary.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.