Defense chief: No easy way to create safe zones in Syria

Defense chief: No easy way to create safe zones in Syria
© Francis Rivera

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter told the Senate Wednesday that establishing humanitarian safe zones in Syria would require a “major combat mission.”

U.S. troops would need to “fight” to create and maintain such a space, Carter told a Senate Appropriations defense subcommittee.

“We have thought this through--how to secure that zone,” Carter told the panel. “It’s a difficult thing to contemplate...and challenging.”

Two weeks ago, four senators sent a letter to President Obama urging the administration to create safe zones in Syria that would provide a safe transit route for people to flee and find safety.

ADVERTISEMENT

“We urge that the United States work with key allies to establish and enforce one or more humanitarian safe zones in Syria without delay,” the letter said. “These zones would provide essential protection for displaced Syrian civilians and a safe transit route for desperately needed humanitarian supplies.”

Carter said establishing humanitarian safe zones in Syria would be contested by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), al-Nusrah and Syrian forces. Countries bordering Syria would not necessarily support safe zones either, Carter added.

U.S. troops are only on the ground battling ISIS in Iraq, serving in advisory roles. The U.S. has also launched airstrikes against ISIS over Iraq and Syria.

Sen. Dick DurbinDick DurbinManchin on finishing agenda by Halloween: 'I don't know how that would happen' Senate Democrats ask for details on threats against election workers Fill the Eastern District of Virginia  MORE (D-Ill.), ranking member on the subcommittee and Democratic whip, was one of the four senators who asked Obama to authorize the creation of these zones.

Durbin clarified that the U.S. should “not be going in alone” and should coordinate with the United Nations and other nations.

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCainJohn Sidney McCainThe Memo: Powell ended up on losing side of GOP fight A pandemic of hyper-hypocrisy is infecting American politics Virginia race looms as dark cloud over Biden's agenda  MORE (R-Ariz.) as well as Sens. Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineSenate Democrats ditch Hyde amendment for first time in decades Fill the Eastern District of Virginia  Defense & National Security — Military starts giving guidance on COVID-19 vaccine refusals MORE (D-Va.) and Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamA pandemic of hyper-hypocrisy is infecting American politics Republicans' mantra should have been 'Stop the Spread' Senators preview bill to stop tech giants from prioritizing their own products MORE (R-S.C.) also signed onto the letter sent to the White House.