U.S. Military Tries to Declare a de Facto No-Fly Zone Over Eastern Syria
Aug. 23, 2016 (EIRNS)—Reeling from the setbacks administered by Russian President Putin’s series of strategic initiatives across Southwest Asia, the Obama administration is scrambling to get back in the game. Through a series of Pentagon statements, the United States has, in effect, tried to declare a no-fly zone over Syria’s Hasakah province, even if it won’t call it that.
"It’s not a no fly-zone," Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook told reporters yesterday. "But," he added,
"the Syrian regime would be wise to avoid areas where coalition forces have been operating. And we will continue to defend them, and, if need be, we will send aircraft again to defend our forces."
Cook refused to say whether U.S. planes were now flying regular combat air patrols (they may well be) where U.S. forces are deployed. However,
"We are going to tell the Syrians and anyone else who may threaten our force in that area that we will defend them, and they have a right to defend themselves as well,"
Completely disregarding the simple fact that American forces are on the ground in Syria in the first place, in violation of that country’s sovereignty, and that American warplanes are in Syrian airspace also in violation of international law, Cook suggested that his warning will apply to other areas of Syria where U.S. forces may move in the future.
"We will continue to defend our forces in our fight against ISIL... and as our forces move in Syria and continue their partnered operations, we will do what we need to do to protect our forces."
Cook stopped short of threatening to shoot down a Syrian or Russian plane that might threaten U.S. forces, saying: "We’re not going to get into our rules of engagement."
Al Masdar’s Paul Antonopoulos put the matter simply in an article today: Cook is making demands for the Syrian government to not operate within its own sovereign airspace.
Cook also used the occasion to throw cold water on the ongoing Kerry-Lavrov talks:
"Contrary to recent claims, we have not finalized plans with Russia on potential coordinated efforts. Serious issues must first be resolved before we can implement the steps [Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov] discussed in Moscow last month,"
Cook said. LTG Stephen Townsend, the U.S. Commander in Baghdad, also was negative on cooperating with Russia, admitting that the decisions in that regard were for the Obama Administration to make, but
"as a soldier, I’m fairly skeptical of the Russians. I’m not sure how much I’m inclined to believe that we can cooperate with them,"
he told Associated Press in an interview.
Kerry and Lavrov are scheduled to hold talks on Aug. 26-27 in Geneva.