United States could create limited no-fly zone in Syria to train Syrian opposition fighters 1902143

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Defence & Security News - United States

 
 
Wednesday, February 19, 2014 09:21 AM
 
United States could create limited no-fly zone in Syria to train Syrian opposition fighters.
The Obama administration, frustrated by the stalled Syria talks, plans to revisit military options ranging from expanding efforts to train and equip moderate rebels to setting up no-fly zones, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday, February 18, 2014.
     
The Obama administration, frustrated by the stalled Syria talks, plans to revisit military options ranging from expanding efforts to train and equip moderate rebels to setting up no-fly zones, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday, February 18, 2014.
Free Syrian Army (FSA) militants battle with Syrian army soldiers in the neighborhood of Askar in the northern city of Aleppo.

     

Exasperated by stalled talks seeking ways to pressure the regime and its Russian allies, the administration again will consider military, diplomatic and intelligence options that previously were presented to the White House but set aside in favor of pursuing international talks, according to officials briefed on the deliberations.

Adding to the problem, the administration is now having to search for a new leader to aid in an insurgency that’s dominated by Islamist factions, including groups with connections to al-Qaida.

Gen. Salim Idriss, the rebel leader the State Department once described as “a key component of the future of the Syrian opposition,” was ousted Sunday at a meeting of the 30-member Supreme Military Council, the rebels’ highest authority.

Military options range from long-range missiles to prevent the Syrian government from flying its aircraft and creating humanitarian zones to training the opposition to hold territory outside the regime’s control and keep out al Qaida-linked groups, U.S. officials and European diplomats told the Journal.

Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, presented the White House with military options in meetings in 2012 and 2013, officials say, and has consistently been a leading voice of caution about using them.

Among options is supplementing the Central Intelligence Agency’s limited, covert arming and training program for moderate rebels by creating a parallel training mission led by U.S. Special Operations forces.

A military train-and-equip mission, officials said, could focus on training rebels in ways to counter al Qaida and hold ground outside the control of the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

As part of the train-and-equip option, military planners have proposed creating a limited no-fly zone inside Syria that would be enforced from Jordanian territory to protect Syrian refugees and rebels who would train there, according to U.S. officials.

Military planners say that creating an area to train and equip rebel forces would require keeping Syrian aircraft well away from the Jordanian border.

The Syrian army on Monday fully wrested back control over three towns in the central province of Hama and the northern Aleppo province, according to the official SANA news agency reported.

The Syrian troops recaptured the key town of Ma'an in Hama, just days after the al-Qaida-inspired groups massacred more than 42 civilians, including women and children, according to SANA (Syrian Arab News Agency).

In Aleppo, the troops recaptured the towns of Sheikh Najjar and al-Ghalli Hill after intense clashes with the armed rebels.

 

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