U.S. military proposals for arming Syrian rebels include a limited no-fly zone over rebel training camps, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday.
This zone would stretch up to 40 kilometers into Syria, and would be enforced by warplanes flying inside Jordan and armed with long-distance air-to-air missiles, the Journal reported, citing unnamed U.S. officials.
Military experts have long warned that a no-fly zone would require Western jets to destroy the regime’s relatively good air defenses.
But U.S. planners believe this no-fly zone could be imposed in about a month without having to destroy the Syrian antiaircraft batteries.
It could also be imposed without a U.N. Security Council resolution because U.S. warplanes would not regularly enter Syrian airspace, and the U.S. military would not be holding Syrian territory.
A no-fly zone is necessary to set up a camp to train rebels, officials said.
“Unless you have a good buffer zone inside Syria, you risk too much,” an unnamed U.S. official briefed on the military proposal told the Journal.
This limited no-fly zone would cost about $50 million a day, far less than a Syria-wide no-fly zone. U.S. officials hope that Washington’s allies could help cover the cost.
The U.S. planes would fly from Jordan -- where U.S. Patriot missiles and F-16 jet fighters have already been deployed -- and from navy ships in the Mediterranean and the Red Sea, the Journal reported.
In Washington, Republican Senator John McCain has led the charge in Congress for a no-fly zone, saying Syria’s rebels will never have a chance against Bashar al-Assad’s forces unless his jets are neutralized.
"We can establish a no-fly zone without sending a single manned airplane over Syria... and we can change this equation on the battlefield," McCain said Thursday.
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