Since the US-backed rebel groups in Syria are operating in the “lawless area” of the country, they are under the pressure from “a lot of different forces,” US State Department deputy spokesperson Mark Toner told RT’s Gayane Chichakyan while trying to explain the legal basis for the change in US policy.
“I frankly don’t know what the legal authority is,” Toner said, adding that the situation in Syria remains “complex and fluid.”
He clarified that Washington did not authorize itself to “go after Assad government forces,” insisting that such bombings would take place only in the “hypothetical” case that the US-backed militants would come under fire from Syrian forces
“We’ve been carrying out airstrikes in that region for many months now, almost a year – and the same – in defense of these groups, but also to help them gain territory back from ISIL,” the spokesman stated, referring to Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) by the administration’s standard acronym for the militants.
“Any type of effort to protect them from Syrian forces would be defensive in nature,” he claimed. “But I’m not going to talk about the legal framework for it.”
When pressed to admit that the latest announcement is a major change in US policy in Syria, Toner said he would “respectfully disagree.”
“There’s no change in the legal framework,” he said. “Our main goal is to take the fight against ISIL. Nothing’s changed in that regard.”