Kerry’s Syria attack plan said grounded by Pentagon

Secretary of state sought strikes against airfields, specifically those used to launch chemical weapons raids, report says

Adiv Sterman is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

US Secretary of State John Kerry at a news conference at the State Department in Washington, in June, 2013. (photo credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin)
US Secretary of State John Kerry at a news conference at the State Department in Washington, in June, 2013. (photo credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin)

The Pentagon rejected an attack plan against Syria initiated by US Secretary of State John Kerry, who called last Wednesday for an immediate US strike on Syrian President Bashar Assad’s airfields, Bloomberg reported Tuesday.

According to the report, during a meeting with high-ranking US Army officials, the secretary of state specifically demanded that the US Air Force target fields that were allegedly used to launch chemical weapons raids against rebel forces in the war-torn country.

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, criticized Kerry’s combat scheme and requested additional information regarding the State Department’s post-strike plan for the region, the report said.

Dempsey was said to have added that he believed the State Department may not fully grasp the complexity of an operation of such magnitude.

On Tuesday, House representatives from both parties received a classified briefing on Syria from Kerry and military officials, Politico reported.

“I’m more concerned, I can say that,” Armed Services Committee Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) was quoted as saying after the briefing. “It was all about Syria.”

Last week, President Barack Obama announced his decision to distribute weapons to Syrian rebels, after a report issued by the US government cited mounting evidence that the Syrian government had used chemical weapons against its people.

The administration stated it had “high confidence” that Assad’s forces had killed up to 150 people with sarin gas.

Obama has reiterated that the use of chemical weapons would cross a “red line.”

Some Republicans, however, maintained that the White House should step up its efforts to topple the Syrian regime, calling to establish a no-fly zone over the region.

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham argued Sunday that supplying rebels with arms was not enough to ensure Assad’s defeat.

“We need to create a no-fly zone,” Graham told NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “We cannot take air power out of the equation.”

On Friday, Western diplomats in Turkey revealed that the US was considering imposing a no-fly zone that could help to monitor weapons shipments, Reuters reported.

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