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 McCainGrassley to test GOP on lowering drug prices Listen, learn and lead: Congressional newcomers should leave the extremist tactics at home Overnight Defense: Trump unveils new missile defense plan | Dems express alarm | Shutdown hits Day 27 | Trump cancels Pelosi foreign trip | Senators offer bill to prevent NATO withdrawal MORE (R-Ariz.), Carl LevinCarl Milton LevinListen, 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 The Hill's 12:30 Report — Sponsored by Delta Air Lines — White House to 'temporarily reinstate' Acosta's press pass after judge issues order | Graham to take over Judiciary panel | Hand recount for Florida Senate race MORE (D-Mich.), Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGraham angers Dems by digging into Clinton, Obama controversies Barr’s first task as AG: Look at former FBI leaders’ conduct Debate builds over making Mueller report public MORE (R-S.C.) and Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezBuzzFeed story has more to say about media than the president More oversight of America’s international media networks a good idea Pro-Israel organizations should finally seek payback against Iran deal Dems 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 HagelFormer US Defense secretary: 'American global leadership now is really nowhere' Meet Trump’s pick to take over for Mattis at Pentagon Juan Williams: Trump is AWOL on our troops 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.