The United States does not consider a no-fly zone in Syria to be feasible, said Ben Rhodes, Deputy National Security Adviser for Strategic Communication for U.S. President Barack Obama, on Thursday.
Rhodes said that while the US is “open to evaluating different options inside of Syria,” it has not seen a no-fly zone in Syria as being “a viable option that can contribute to essentially changing decisively the situation on the ground, given the nature of the fighting that’s taking place in urban areas and across the country.”
Turkey has long been asking for a buffer zone in northern Syria, reinforced with air support, to provide shelter for Syrian refugees and to curb Syrian military aircraft.
While Turkey’s proposal for establishing a buffer zone is supported by some anti-ISIS coalition members such as France, Washington has not taken up the suggestion.
In a recent defense subcommittee budget hearing, two top officials gave conflicting views on whether establishing a humanitarian safe zone on the Turkey-Syria border was a viable option but neither seemed to think it was likely.
General Martin Dempsey, outgoing chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Ash Carter, Defense Secretary, testified on May 6 on the 2016 proposed budget for the Department of Defense.
Carter opposed the creation of a safe zone in Syria, calling it “a major combat mission” and added that the US “would need to fight to create such a space and then fight to keep such a space.”
Dempsey, on the other hand, was more optimistic. “It is practical militarily but it would be a significant policy decision to do so,” he said.
“I can tell you that militarily, the US CENTCOM, in conjunction with European command and our Turkish counterparts, we’ve been planning for such a contingency for some time.”
In a joint statement released on Thursday following the Camp David summit, President Obama and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) representatives “reaffirmed the importance of a genuine, sustainable political solution” in Syria and “affirmed that Assad had lost all legitimacy and had no role in Syria’s future.”
GCC member states “decided to intensify efforts to combat extremist groups in Syria, notably by shutting down private financial flows or any form of assistance to ISIS, Al Nusra Front, and other violent extremist groups.”
There was no mention of any military intervention.