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

South Korea Divided on Response to North’s Cyber Attack

In past five years, officials in Seoul have accused Pyongyang of hacking into banks, government websites, causing chaos and inflicting millions of dollars in damages More

Video Calm Amid Fear in Daily Life in S. Sudan’s Bentiu

Residents have been trying to regain some sense of normalcy, but planning for the future remains uncertain as fear of attacks looms More

2015 Could Be Watershed for Syria Conflict

Republican control of US Senate in January could lead to more aggressive policy against IS militants in Syria - and against regime of Bashar al-Assad 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.
Ugandan Doctors Aid Victims of Sudan's Civil Wari
X
Adam Bailes
December 22, 2014 3:45 PM
In Sudan's state of South Kordofan, the number of amputees as result of civil war is in the thousands, but few have access to sufficient medical help. Adam Bailes recently visited the area and says a small team of Ugandan doctors has been providing remote help, producing new prosthetic limbs for those in need.
Video

Video Ugandan Doctors Aid Victims of Sudan's Civil War

In Sudan's state of South Kordofan, the number of amputees as result of civil war is in the thousands, but few have access to sufficient medical help. Adam Bailes recently visited the area and says a small team of Ugandan doctors has been providing remote help, producing new prosthetic limbs for those in need.
Video

Video Jane Monheit Christmas Special

Chanteuse Jane Monheit sings the holiday classic “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” and explains why it’s her favorite song of the season.
Video

Video Calm Amid Fear in Daily Life in S. Sudan’s Town of Bentiu

Six months ago, Bentiu was a ghost town. The capital of northern Unity State, near South Sudan’s important oil fields, had changed hands several times in fighting between government forces and rebels. Calm returned in November and since then, residents of Bentiu have been trying to regain some sense of normalcy. Bentiu’s market has reopened there are plans to start school again. But fears of new attacks hang heavy, as Benno Muchler reports from Bentiu.
Video

Video US Business Groups Press for Greater Access to Cuba

President Barack Obama's decision to do all he can to ease restrictions on U.S. trade, travel and financial activities with Cuba has drawn criticism from some conservatives and Republicans. People who bring tourists to the island and farmers who want to sell more food to Cuba, however, think they can do a lot more business with Cuba. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.

All About America

AppleAndroid