Rouhani: Airstrikes Against IS Are Illegal

Iran’s President says airstrikes by the U.S. and a group of allies against Islamic State (IS) targets in Syria are illegal.

Ben Ariel ,

Iranian president Hassan Rouhani
Iranian president Hassan Rouhani

Iran’s President, Hassan Rouhani, said on Tuesday that airstrikes by the U.S. and a group of allies against Islamic State (IS) targets in Syria are illegal, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Rouhani said military action could only be justified if authorized by the United Nations Security Council or if the measures were conducted with the consent of the Syrian government.

The comments came hours after the Pentagon confirmed that the U.S. had begun airstrikes against Islamic State (IS) targets in Syria.

"These bombings do not have any legal standing so we can interpret them as an attack," Rouhani was quoted as having told journalists on the fringes of the United Nations General Assembly.

Rouhani condemned IS and described them as "barbarians," but said Iran should lead any coalition in the fight against the group that has seized control of swaths of Syrian and Iraqi territory.

The Iranian president seemed eager to express Iran's willingness to combat the group, but he signaled no willingness to work with the U.S. government in the task.

"There is no cooperation between Iran and the United States but we are extremely serious about combating extremism," he said, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Iran has been a long-standing ally of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad and has provided him with military support during his fight against the rebels. Rouhani noted that Iran has been fighting Islamic State extremists in the region alongside Syrian forces.

The Iranian president made similar comments last week, when he denounced IS for its savagery but also branded the U.S.-led coalition against the terror group as "ridiculous."

In his comments on Tuesday, Rouhani also said that if Iran and world powers reach a long-term nuclear deal that ends sanctions against Tehran, the agreement will open the door to deeper cooperation on regional peace and stability and the fight against terrorism.

"Without a doubt, reaching a final nuclear deal will expand our cooperation, and we can cooperate in various fields including restoring regional peace and stability and fighting against terrorism," he said, according to Reuters.

"America cannot deny Iran's role in the fight against terrorism," Rouhani added.

The sides have set a November 24 deadline for a long-term agreement that would end sanctions on Tehran in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program.

"The talks occurring will clear many things, whether we will be able to reach a final agreement or not," Rouhani said, according to Reuters. "I believe both sides have reached the conclusion that the continuation of the current condition doesn't benefit anyone.... So why not make strides to reach this agreement?"