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

ADVERTISEMENT

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 McCainJuan Williams: Time for boldness from Biden Democrats lead in three battleground Senate races: poll Republican Scott Taylor wins Virginia primary, to face Elaine Luria in rematch MORE (R-Ariz.), Carl LevinCarl Milton LevinAmerica's divide widens: Ignore it no longer Senator Tom Coburn's government oversight legacy The Trumpification of the federal courts MORE (D-Mich.), Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamHillicon Valley: Senate panel advances bill targeting online child sexual abuse | Trump administration awards tech group contract to build 'virtual' wall | Advocacy groups urge Congress to ban facial recognition technologies Senate panel advances bill targeting online child sexual abuse The Hill's Campaign Report: The political heavyweights in Tuesday's primary fights MORE (R-S.C.) and Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezSenate Dems request briefing on Russian bounty wire transfers Democratic senator proposes sanctions against Putin over bounties GOP lawmakers voice support for Israeli plan to annex areas in West Bank 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 HagelHundreds of West Point alumni call out Esper over military's role in protests Can he really do that? Yes, he probably can — because Congress let him GOP lawmakers stick to Trump amid new criticism 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.