US General says no-fly zone can push US into war with Russia

US General Paul Selva warns implementing no-fly zone in northern Syria can possibly drag US into confrontation with Russia

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

The US Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Air Force Gen. Paul Selva testifies during a hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee December 9, 2015.

Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Paul Selva warned the Senate Armed Services Committee on Wednesday over possible "direct conflict" with Assad forces or confrontation with Russia in Syria.

"We have the military capacity to impose a no-fly zone” in Syria, but “the question that we need to ask is do we have the political and policy backdrop with which to do so?" Selva asked.

Committee Chairman John McCain, who finds the Obama’s administration policy wrong, harshly criticized the general, “It's one of the more embarrassing statements I've ever heard from a uniformed military officer, that we are worried about Syria and Russia's reaction to saving the lives of thousands and thousands of Syrians who are being barrel-bombed and massacred."

US President Barack Obama has still rejected the no-fly zone plan in Syria.

However, Obama’s policy on the plan has been criticized by some US authorities. In September, former CIA director and top US General David Petraeus urged the Obama administration to establish safe zones protected by US-led coalition air power.

Meanwhile, US General John Allen, who was the former Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter DAESH, said last month US should consider a possible no-fly zone against DAESH in northern Syria.

Turkey has consistently defended a plan to establish safe areas and no-fly zones in Syria. Turkish Foreign Ministry previously indicated that refugees who stay in Turkey and neighboring countries could be settled in the safe areas which will be cleared from DAESH by Turkey and US-led coalition forces following effective operations against the group.

Earlier on September, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said his government has vigorously tried to persuade world leaders to establish a safe zone in northern Syria in order to help relocate refugees and displaced people back into the country.

However, Davutoglu has complained nobody paid attention to this proposal and the need to address the refugee crisis.

Since September 2014, the US-led coalition has been carrying out air strikes against DAESH points in Syria.

Russia began its aerial campaign over Syria on Sept. 30, initially saying it would be targeting positions held by the DAESH terrorist group, but concerns were raised when it appeared that the majority of Russian air strikes were targeting the Syrian opposition fighting against Bashar al Assad’s regime and DAESH.

Brett McGurk, US Special Envoy for Global Coalition to Counter DAESH, said that only 30 percent of Russian air strikes target DAESH.

Additionally, US has accused Russia of targeting US-trained “moderate Syrian opposition,” fighting against Assad’s regime - focusing on the west and northwest of the country.

Meanwhile, Russian air attacks killed 1,331 people including at least 403 civilians from September 30 to November 20 in 2015, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said. Russian attacks have been also forcing at least 120,000 Syrians to leave their homes.

Currently, Russian air strikes are targeting Turkmens who are opponents of Assad in the northwestern Syria which is a non-DAESH area.

TRTWorld and agencies