Senators Push for Syria No-Fly Zone

Members of the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday expressed their frustration that the US has not enacted a no-fly zone in Syria to stop the Assad regime’s use of barrel bombs and to protect coalition-supported forces from Russian air strikes. “This is not only harmful to our interests, it is immoral,” said Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), the committee chairman, ?at a hearing on Capitol Hill. Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford said the US is still supporting the troops it previously trained, and that the US has the capability to defend other coalition-supported troops if they are attacked by the Russians. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said the US does not have “a concept of operations for a no-fly zone at this time,” but said there is a “moral obligation” to support the troops that went through the train and equip program. But McCain said Carter was making “a distinction without a difference.” He added, “These are American-supported and coalition-supported men who are going in and being slaughtered.” Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), also asked Carter why the US is “unwilling to send a message to [Syrian President Bashar al-Assad] that if he continues with barrel bombing, we will stop him and crater his runways.” Carter said the US has not “taken that step” to engage with the Syrian military. “Our priority has been to combat ISIL,” Carter said. (See also US, Russia Sign Flight Agreement.)