U.S. considers no-fly-zone over Syria

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The United States is considering imposing a no-fly zone over Syria, the U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said on Thursday.

The U.S. administration is studying in depth all options that could lead to a peaceful settlement in Syria, Nuland added.
On Wednesday, the former head of a U.N. monitoring mission, who tried in vain to secure a ceasefire in Syria’s civil war, said it was now time to consider imposing a no-fly zone over the country.

The comments from Norwegian General Robert Mood came after NATO Chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen ruled out Western military intervention and called for a political solution to the two-year-old crisis which has claimed an estimated 70,000 lives.

“I have come to the conclusion there has to be a leveling on the playing field,” Mood, who headed the U.N. mission in Syria until last July, told Britain’s BBC TV.

“To level the playing field now in the military terms would be to consider no-fly zones, to consider whether the Patriots in Turkey could have a role also in taking on some responsibility for the northern part of Syria.”

Three NATO countries - the United States, the Netherlands and Germany - sent Patriot surface-to-air missiles to Turkey early this year to protect Turkish cities from possible attack from Syria.

Six missile batteries have been stationed around three Turkish cities but are too far away in their current positions to provide an effective shield for northern Syria, according to NATO.

Mood said he did not agree with arming the rebels.

Meanwhile, Early March, Commander of U.S. European Command, Admiral James Stavridis told the Senate Armed Services Committee that several NATO countries are looking at a variety of military operations to arm and assist the opposition fighters.

To end the deadlock between embattled President Bashar al-Assad’s regime forces and the opposition, the admiral said NATO must assist the latter group by using aircraft to impose a no-fly zone, providing military aid and imposing arms embargoes.

However, he said it was “necessary” to get U.N. approval before NATO assumes any military role in Syria.

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