Missile Strike on IS Permissible Under Int'l Law

Missile Strike on IS Permissible Under Int'l LawMissile Strike on IS Permissible Under Int'l Law

The Islamic Revolution Guards Corps recently launched missile strikes against positions of the Islamic State terror group in Syria' Deir al Zour province.

The firing of the missiles was the first in about 30 years outside Iran's own territory. ICANA in a recent article explored the legality of the move in accordance with international law.

On June 18 the IRGC fired six mid-ranged ground-to-ground missiles on IS "meeting and command centers" in what it said was retaliation for the twin terrorist attacks on Iran's parliament and the mausoleum of Imam Khomeini in Tehran 11 days earlier that left 18 people dead and wounded more than 50 others.

As a matter of international law, UN Resolution 2254, passed unanimously in December 2015, calls on all member states "to prevent and suppress terrorist acts committed specifically by Islamic State in Iraq and Levant" and " eradicate the safe haven they have established over significant parts of Syria." It also says the ceasefire envisaged for Syria "will not apply to offensive or defensive actions against these individuals and groups."

The resolution came one week after IS terrorists claimed attacks in Paris where 130 people were killed and 350 others were injured. At the time, the then French president Francois Hollande called the attacks "an act of war", vowing to avenge the massacre.

  Legal Precedent

Following the attack, France stepped up its military engagement against the terrorist group and dispatched its aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle to the Mediterranean Sea to aid airstrikes on IS in Syria and Iraq.

This can set a legal precedent for the authority that gives Iran mandate to strike IS positions in Syria.

In addition, Article 51 of the UN Charter recognizes "the inherent right of individual or collective self-defense if an armed attack occurs against a member of the United Nations."

It should be noted that the US and the UK have cited the same article in the past for their invasion of Afghanistan in retaliation for the 9/11 attacks.

"These forces have now been employed in exercise of the inherent right of individual and collective self-defense, recognized in Article 51, following the terrorist outrage of September 11, to avert the continuing threat of attacks from the same source," read the UK notification to the UN at the time.

Unlike the US and other European countries, who have grown so accustomed to striking Syria without the consent of its government, Iran's military involvement in Syria has always been on behalf of its government.

Iranian officials have said Damascus had been informed prior to the attack.


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