November 26, 2011
The Free Syria Army (FSA) is calling for airstrikes on “strategic targets” inside Syria, the AFP reported on Thursday.
“We are not in favor of the entry of foreign troops as was the case in Iraq but we want the international community to give us logistical support,” said FSA chief Riyadh al-Asaad, who is based across the border in Turkey. “We also want international protection, the establishment of a no-fly zone, a buffer zone and strikes on certain strategic targets considered as crucial by the regime,” he said.
Earlier in the week, France’s foreign minister, Alain Juppé, raised the prospect of Syrian intervention. After a meeting in Paris with Burhan Ghalioun of the Syrian national council, Juppé said “humanitarian corridors or humanitarian zones” should be established to protect civilians from the alleged abuses of the al-Assad regime.
Sheltering the FSA is part of a Turkish effort to unseat al-Assad. A Foreign Ministry spokesman said on the condition of anonymity in keeping with diplomatic protocol that Turkey’s protection of the FSA in an “officers’ camp” is part of a humanitarian effort. “We are providing these people with temporary residence on humanitarian grounds, and that will continue,” he told the New York Times in late October.
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Artak Shakaryan, an Armenian Turkologist, told PanArmenian on October 10 that Turkey will support operations to foment regime change in Syria but would not take direct military action without NATO support. “Ousting Iran out of the region or increasing its influence in Syria, should opposition come to power, are among Turkey’s main goals,” Shakaryan said.
Following the overthrow and murder of Moammar Gaddafi in Libya, NATO ruled out a Syrian no-fly zone. Al Bawaba, a newspaper based in Jordan and the United Arab Emirates, cited senior European sources this week that said Arab jet fighters, and possibly Turkish warplanes, backed by American logistic support, will implement a no fly zone over Syria.
Kuwait’s al-Rai daily reported that the no fly ban will include the movement of Syrian military vehicles, including tanks, personnel carriers and artillery, and will paralyze Syrian regime forces “in less than 24 hours.”
Arab League diplomats will meet in Egypt today to consider sanctions against Syria, after Damascus missed a deadline to agree on allowing international monitors to enter the country. The league suspended Syria’s membership earlier this month.
Syria rejects Arab League sanctions.
The FSA leader said a no-fly zone imposed on Syria would allow his militia to triumph in a relatively short time.” On Thursday, the FSA said “armed Bedouins” attacked a military bus near the city of Palmyra and killed seven senior military pilots.
“We are determined to liberate our people and to make the regime fall,” al-Asaad said.
The FSA has denied that it is supported by the Muslim Brotherhood, the militant Sunni organization used by U.S. and British intelligence to undermine Arab nationalism. Libya’s National Transitional Council has announced that it is currently in talks with the Syrian National Council and is considering supplying weapons and volunteer fighters of the National Liberation Army to the Free Syrian Army.
Despite documented connections to avowed enemies of the United States and especially Israel, a number of prominent Republicans and neocons have called for supporting the FSA and violently overthrowing the al-Assad regime.
Arizona Senator John McCain compared al-Assad to Gaddafi and told the 2011 American Israel Public Affairs Committee Summit that Syria poses a threat to Israel.
In June, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham urged the U.S. take a similar approach in Syria to the one taken in Libya.
During recent GOP debates, Rick Perry called for a Syrian no-fly zone and Mitt Romney suggested a “no drive zone.”