US airstrike proposal in Syria could result in Russian deaths: report

US airstrike proposal in Syria could result in Russian deaths: report
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U.S. officials are weighing a proposal for an airstrike against Syrian military targets that would likely result in the deaths of Russian troops operating in the country, The Intercept reported Thursday.

Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisUS leaves dozens of 'high value' ISIS detainees behind amid Syria retreat: report White House officials stand by Syria withdrawal, sanctions delay amid bipartisan pushback Sunday shows — Officials rush to Trump's defense on Syria, sanctions MORE is expected to deliver the Pentagon's proposals to President TrumpDonald John TrumpWHCA calls on Trump to denounce video depicting him shooting media outlets Video of fake Trump shooting members of media shown at his Miami resort: report Trump hits Fox News's Chris Wallace over Ukraine coverage MORE at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida on Thursday.

Among those plans is a proposal for a "saturation strike" on Syrian military targets, including airfields, two military officials told The Intercept. 

But that plan would likely lead to Russian casualties in Syria, the officials said. It would break from previous U.S. strategy under the Obama administration to avoid military action in the country that could cause Russian deaths.


The proposals come on the heels of a chemical weapons attack in northern Syria on Tuesday that killed scores of civilians. The strike was allegedly carried out by the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad, though the Syrian government denies responsibility.

Under the Obama administration, the U.S. pushed for the removal of Assad, whom Syrian rebels have been fighting to oust since 2011. Russia, on the other hand, has backed the regime and provided military support to the Syrian government.

Compounding the situation is the fact that the many of the Syrian military's airfields are near civilian-inhabited areas, increasing the risk of civilian casualties from a potential U.S. airstrike.

The U.S. currently has military forces in Syria, though they are acting in an advising capacity and are not directly involved in combat.