Next NATO commander Breedlove wary of Syria no-fly zone

A no-fly zone in Syria "would probably require fixed-wing air and other capabilities"

From Kevin Baron, E-Ring:  The likely next NATO supreme allied commander, U.S. Air Force Gen. Philip Breedlove, told Congress he saw “no military value” in creating a no-fly zone inside of Northern Syria.

That position puts him directly at odds with Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who have pressed the president for a no-fly zone, and the three men argued about military options in Syria during a hearing Thursday.

One problem Breedlove outlined is that of the six Patriot missile batteries deployed in Turkey to defend the border, only two are American. The other four come from NATO and Turkey, so the United States would require at least Turkey’s consent to establish a no-fly zone that reached into northern Syria.

“We could do that,” he said, tepidly. “The fact of the matter of being able to project power into Syria is physically possible. There is both good and bad at creating this impression into Syria.” Patriots would have to be re-positioned to defend the no-fly zone extending into Syria, instead of their current role of protecting populations along the Turkish border.

“A safe zone could create opportunity to engage with the opposition, but creating a safe zone in Northern Syria would be much more than — would have to be much more than Patriots,” Breedlove cautioned. “It would probably require fixed-wing air and other capabilities that we would have to bring to the problem.”

Those aircraft would have to destroy Syrian air defenses.  (photo: Chris Maddaloni/CQ-Roll Call)

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