October 2, 2015 | Quoted by Nancy A. Youssef, Michael Weiss, and Tim Mak - The Daily Beast

U.S. Admits: We Can’t Protect Syrian Allies From Russia’s Bombs

United States officials conceded Thursday that there is little the they could do in Syria to protect CIA-vetted rebels, the very people the American government trained and armed, who are now coming under fire from Russian airstrikes.

The military isn’t willing to intervene on behalf of the rebels, given the potentially disastrous consequences of an escalation with Russian forces, U.S. defense officials and top lawmakers told The Daily Beast. No one wants to accidentally touch off a showdown between superpowers.

“We are not going to shoot Russian airplanes. We are not going to hit their airfields [in Syria]. And we are not going to equip [rebels] with MANPADs,” one U.S. defense official told The Daily Beast, using the acronym for shoulder-fired, surface-to-air missiles. Previous programs to hand out those weapons have sometimes gone disastrously wrong.

But if ISIS was not in the area, why were U.S. vetted fighters there, hundreds of miles away from ISIS strongholds and in the same garrison as al Qaeda affiliates?

“This should give us a strong impetus to clarify our strategy, if not for the rest of the world, then at least for ourselves,” said Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, a senior fellow at the Washington, D.C.-based Foundation for Defense of Democracies. “It’s a mess. It’s been a mess for a long time but it is becoming an increasingly risky mess.”


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