NATO planning for possible Syria missions, official says

The top U.S. military commander in Europe said Tuesday that NATO is conducting contingency planning for possible military involvement in Syria and American forces would be prepared if called upon by the United Nations and member countries.

“We are prepared if called upon to be engaged,” Stavridis told the Senate Armed Services Committee.

The commander said discussions within the NATO member countries have focused on imposing a no-fly zone, providing lethal support to the Syrian opposition forces and imposing arms embargoes.

Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., asked whether there is any consideration of targeting Syria’s air defenses. Stavridis simply said yes.

NATO has installed Patriot missile defense batteries in southern Turkey along the border with Syria that are also capable of shooting down aircraft. During an exchange with Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., Stavridis said the Patriots could be positioned in such a way as to shoot down Syrian aircraft and he indicated that doing so would be a powerful disincentive for pilots to fly in that area.

Anne Richard, the assistant secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration, also made clear that the Obama administration does not foresee a negotiated settlement to the crisis despite diplomatic efforts.

“It’s hard to imagine a peaceful outcome with Assad in power,” Richard said.

Full article: NATO planning for possible Syria missions, official says (CBS)

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