US has ‘legal basis’ for strikes against ISIS in Syria, Power says

President Obama has the authority to launch strikes against Islamic militants in Syria, even without a stamp of approval from the United Nations, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. said Sunday.

Samantha Power said that, while there’s broad support among U.N. Security Council members for taking the fight to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), also known as ISIL, the United States has the legal right to launch Syrian strikes without the group’s explicit backing.

“Consistent with the U.N. charter, we [think] – it would depend on the facts and circumstances of any particular strike in Syria – that we have the legal basis we need,” Power said on ABC’s “This Week” program.

Asked specifically about the possibility that Russia would veto such authority, Power suggested the Russians would back the United States.

“Russia has vetoed in the past, but on very different issues,” Power said. “Russia has made clear, for a long time, its opposition to ISIL.”

Power said a meeting of the U.N. Security Council, convened by Secretary of State John Kerry on Friday, left U.S. officials confident that the international community is universally supportive of the fight against ISIS.

“It showcased just how much support there is on the Security Council and in the broader international community for the anti-ISIL effort,” she said.

Obama on Wednesday will be in New York to address the U.N. General Assembly in a bid to rally more international support behind that effort.

“Because we’re leading the right way, more nations are joining our coalition,” Obama said Saturday in his weekly radio address. “Over 40 countries have offered to help the broad campaign against ISIL so far – from training and equipment, to humanitarian relief, to flying combat missions.”

While France last week joined the ISIS fight by launching direct air strikes on the terrorist militants in Iraq, no country has yet committed to helping the United States should Obama expand those strikes into Syria.

Power acknowledged that no other country has said explicitly that they would join an aerial campaign in Syria. But she strongly suggested that such support is forthcoming.

“It will be up to each country to announce for itself whether it’s prepared to participate in a combat role or can provide military equipment,” Power said. “I will make you a prediction … which is that we will not do the airstrikes alone.”

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