News / Middle East

Syrian Rebels Get Little Support for No-Fly Zone

Wounded Syrians evacuate a field hospital after a second air strike in Azaz on the outskirts of Aleppo, Syria, August 15, 2012.
Wounded Syrians evacuate a field hospital after a second air strike in Azaz on the outskirts of Aleppo, Syria, August 15, 2012.
As Syrian rebels look to the skies, they see a battlefield out of their reach.
 
In fighting Syrian government forces of Bashar al-Assad for 18 months, the insurgents are essentially armed with light weapons. They face a well-equipped military, whose Soviet and Russian-made arsenal includes warplanes, helicopters, tanks, heavy artillery and armored personnel carriers.  
 
It is because of this disparity in weaponry that rebel forces have been calling for the establishment of a no-fly zone over Syria, ostensibly to protect the civilians who have been under intense attack by Mr. Assad’s military.
 
But their calls receive little international support.
 
Tough parameters
 
Retired U.S. Air Force Lieutenant General David Deptula, who flew more than 80 combat missions in the late 1990s enforcing a no-fly zone over northern Iraq, said first of all, it is essential to define the parameters of a no-fly zone before establishing one. 
 
“The questions of why we are doing this and what is the desired outcome - those are issues and questions that need to be answered first,” he said. “People tend to immediately go into ‘Well, how do you do this’?
 
"But before you answer the question ‘how,’ one needs to answer the question ‘why’?" he said. "And only when all the parties to doing this are comfortable with the answers to those questions, does one proceed. You have to define the purpose before you define the action.” 
 
Sean O’Connor, a military expert who writes for the British publication Jane’s, said the purpose of the no-fly zones over Iraq - from 1991 to 2003 - was clear.
 
“The two no-fly zones in northern Iraq and southern Iraq were basically designed to provide safe havens for the civilian populations where [Iraqi leader] Saddam [Hussein] couldn’t fly his air force," O’Connor said.
 
Saddam “was still permitted to operate in central Iraq, in and around Baghdad and those areas - but he was technically not permitted to fly around northern Iraq, around Mosul, or down in southern Iraq, around Basra," he said. "And that pretty much restricted their operations.”
 
Libya model
 
Last year, a U.N. Security Council resolution established a no-fly zone over Libya to protect civilians from attacks by the forces of Libyan leader Colonel Moammar Gadhafi. But the resolution also authorized member states to “take all necessary measures” to ensure the ban on flights.
 
Ward Carroll, who patrolled the Iraqi no-fly zones, and flew over Bosnia in 1995, said the purpose of the Libyan mission changed. 
 
“At first we said it is all about protecting civilians and that was the impetus behind the NATO mission,” Carrol said. “But we saw what happened - ultimately, it was regime change.”
 
Retired Lt. Gen. Deptula said that in the Libyan campaign - which lasted seven months - NATO aircraft became the rebels’ air force.
 
“Because by virtue of their air operations over Libya, those operations reduced the Libyan military to dismounted infantry where this ragtag group of rebels could then attack and defeat Gadhafi’s loyalist army and unseat his 40-year governing regime," said Deptula. 
 
“Modern air power, in conjunction with indigenous forces on the ground, was a very effective use of force that allowed the overthrow of Gadhafi," he said. "That is exactly what the rebel forces in Syria have called for and why they want to see a no-fly zone executed.”
 
Goals clear
 
Deptula and others said if a no-fly zone is established over Syria, the goal will be clear - regime change.
 
Many Western leaders, including President Barack Obama, have called on President Assad to relinquish power - but to no avail. They have also indicated that the establishment of a no-fly zone is one of the options under consideration to end the bloodshed. 
 
But that idea has gained little traction among international supporters of the rebels, much to their dismay.  
 

Andre de Nesnera

Andre de Nesnera is senior analyst at the Voice of America, where he has reported on international affairs for more than three decades. Now serving in Washington D.C., he was previously senior European correspondent based in London, established VOA’s Geneva bureau in 1984 and in 1989 was the first VOA correspondent permanently accredited in the Soviet Union.

You May Like

Multimedia US Nurse ‘Cured of Ebola,’ NIH Says

Nina Pham, Texas nurse who treated first Ebola patient in US, received no experimental drugs; WHO expects vaccine surge in 2015 More

Video Islamic State Militants Encroach on Baghdad

Iraqi capital not under ‘imminent threat,’ US military says, amid worries about foothold More

Video Hong Kong Protesters Focus on Holding Volatile Mong Kok

Activists say holding Mong Kok is key to their movement's success, despite confrontations with angry residents and police More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Dr. Malek Towghi (Baluch) from: USA
September 11, 2012 5:14 PM
"Syrian Rebels Get Little Support for No-Fly Zone". THANKS, GOODNESS! Thanks to Russia for restraining us from committing another folly. The fall of the Alawites in Syria will mean the establishment of another Muslim Brotherhood-Salfi regime in the Middle East-- and treatment of our embassy in Damascus the way it is happening in Cairo.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid