Dempsey: No-fly zone in Syria would be 'act of war'

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Pentagon leaders have repeatedly voiced concerns over a no-fly zone mission in Syria, arguing Assad's formidable anti-aircraft defenses would pose a serious challenge to American and allied air power. 

But those concerns seem to have fallen on deaf ears among several defense hawks in Congress. 

Sens. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainCindy McCain says late husband would be 'very disappointed' with politics today What would John McCain do? Sunday shows preview: Trump ratchets up trade war with China MORE (R-Ariz.), Carl LevinCarl Milton LevinStrange bedfellows oppose the filibuster Listen, learn and lead: Congressional newcomers should leave the extremist tactics at home House Democrats poised to set a dangerous precedent with president’s tax returns MORE (D-Mich.), Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamWhat would John McCain do? Sunday shows preview: Trump ratchets up trade war with China White House won't move forward with billions in foreign aid cuts MORE (R-S.C.) and Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezPelosi warns Mnuchin to stop 'illegal' .3B cut to foreign aid House passes temporary immigration protections for Venezuelans Senate panel advances bipartisan bill to lower drug prices amid GOP blowback MORE (D-N.J.) all want Obama to put military pressure on the Syrian regime by creating a no-fly zone and launching air strikes against the country's defenses.

Levin, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said it was “essential” that the U.S. “step up the military pressure on the Assad regime.”

Dempsey reiterated the Pentagon's standing concerns on Wednesday. 

"It will be difficult because the Syrian air defense system is sophisticated and it's dense," he said. 

That said, "if that is a decision that the nation takes that we want to impose a no-fly zone, we'll make it happen," Dempsey added. 

American military leaders have reportedly drafted strategic plans for a possible no-fly zone in Syria, located along the country's shared borders with Turkey and Jordan. 

U.S. military advisers are working closely with the Jordanian military to address a number of regional security concerns, including Syria. 

CIA operatives and U.S. special operations troops have also been training Syrian rebels in Turkey since late last year on using anti-tank and anti-aircraft weaponry, according to recent news reports. 

Defense Secretary Chuck HagelCharles (Chuck) Timothy HagelOvernight Defense: US, Russia tensions grow over nuclear arms | Highlights from Esper's Asia trip | Trump strikes neutral tone on Hong Kong protests | General orders ethics review of special forces Five takeaways from Pentagon chief's first major trip Esper given horse in Mongolia as US looks for new inroads against China MORE also recently approved a request from Amman to keep a detachment of Air Force F-16s and a Patriot anti-aircraft missile battery in Jordan. 

Earlier this year, then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta ordered a Patriot missile battery to be deployed along Turkey's border with Syria.