In 2013, the British House of Commons voted against military action in Syria. In September of 2014, they voted in favor of airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq, but made it explicitly clear that they could not strike Syria. Cameron confirmed this at the time, saying airstrikes in Syria would require separate parliamentary authorization, which has never come.
Despite this, British officials confirmed today that British pilots have been conducting airstrikes against Syria, and Defense Secretary Michael Fallon defiantly told parliament that the strikes will continue to be carried out, irrespecctive of parliamentary opposition.
The sort of excuse British officials are using to justify this is that the pilots were “embedded” under the command of US and Canadian forces, and those countries were the ones that were actually ordering the strikes British forces were carrying out. Fallon insisted he is still committed to getting actual approval before carrying out strikes without this excuse.
This argument is not sitting well with MPs, particularly in the opposition, as it seems to set up the precedent that British military forces can attack whatever the government wants, irrespective of parliamentary approval, simply by doing so under the guise of foreign commanders.
It’s not like Britain didn’t know the strikes were happening, either, as they have confirmed that Prime Minister David Cameron was fully aware that the strikes, which he himself admitted required parliamentary approval, were being carried out without that approval.