Pentagon ‘asked’ for no-fly zone in Syria

Pentagon ‘asked’ for no-fly zone in Syria

Pentagon ‘asked’ for no-fly zone in Syria

The Obama administration has put all Syrian options on the table.

The White House has asked the Pentagon to draw up plans for a no-fly zone inside Syria that would be enforced by the U.S. and other countries such as France and the U.K., according to two American administration officials.

The request was made ahead of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s Middle East tour last week to finalize plans for an early June conference between the Syrian regime and opposition leaders in Geneva, according to the Daily Beast’s report.

Officials said the Obama administration was pursuing a “dual strategy,” according to which they would continue to seek a political solution while at the same time preparing for more direct U.S. military involvement. This military involvement includes authorizing the Joint Chiefs of Staff for the first time to plan for multilateral military actions inside Syria. They added that no decisions on actually using force had yet been made. However, the Pentagon denied the officials’ statements. “There is no new planning effort underway. The Joint Staff, along with the relevant combatant commanders, continue to conduct prudent planning for a range of possible military options,” Pentagon spokesman Dave Lapan said in a written statement.

“As the president reiterated last week, all options are on the table with regard to Syria, though a scenario involving American boots on the ground is not likely,” the Daily Beast quoted Caitlin Hayden, the spokesperson for the White House’s National Security Staff, as saying.

“We will continue to urgently work to support the opposition. We are consulting with the Syrian Opposition Coalition and the Supreme Military Council about how we can continue to elevate our assistance; we are leading the world in providing humanitarian assistance for those affected by the violence; and we will continue to coordinate international efforts to end the bloodshed and hasten a political transition to a Syria where al-Assad has no role.”