US lawmakers have urged President Barack Obama to go beyond supplying militants in Syria with lethal aid, urging him to consider imposing a no-fly zone over the Arab country.
South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said in a television interview with NBC network on Sunday that supplying the militants in Syria with ammunition is not enough and Washington needs to establish a no-fly zone.
“We need to create a no-fly zone. We cannot take air power out of the equation,” Graham said.
Senator Saxby Chambliss, who is a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee said, “A no-fly zone may be the ultimate tactic that needs to be taken.”
Colorado Democratic Senator Mark Udall also said he is considering a range of US responses including a no-fly zone.
This comes as on June 14, Obama ordered his administration to provide the militants with weapons, a day after the US claimed that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons against the militants and thus crossed Washington’s “red line.” Damascus has rejected the allegation as “lies.”
The delivery of the weapons, which include assault rifles, shoulder-fired rocket-propelled grenades and anti-tank missiles, would be carried out through the CIA, reports say.
On the same day, the White House said establishing a no-fly zone over Syria is not within the bounds of possibility as it has faced formidable obstacles not experienced in the implementation of such a measure in Libya in 2011.
“It's dramatically more difficult and dangerous and costly in Syria, for a variety of reasons,” Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes said.
On June 15, Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi called on the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to authorize a no-fly zone over Syria.
However, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned against any effort by the US and its allies to impose a no-fly zone over the Arab state, saying the move would be a ‘violation of international law.’
“You don’t have to be a great expert to understand that this will still violate international law, and we really hope that our American colleagues will align their actions in accordance with the approach of the Russian-American initiative in preparation for the conference (on Syria),” Lavrov said on Saturday.
The unrest in Syria erupted in March 2011, and many people, including large numbers of Syrian soldiers and security personnel, have been killed so far.