The U.S. is still reviewing Russia’s plans to impose no-fly zones over parts of Syria, Secretary of Defense James Mattis told reporters Monday.
The plan stems from a Russian brokered peace process which called for four safe zones inside Syria where no military aircraft would be allowed to fly. Russia’s special envoy to Syria declared that this meant the U.S. led anti-ISIS coalition would only be allowed to strike certain targets near ISIS’s capital, and would have to cease operations elsewhere.
“The work of aviation, especially the forces of the international coalition, is absolutely not envisaged,” Russia’s special envoy to Syria Aleksandr Lavrentiev said. “With notification or without notification, this issue is now closed.”
The U.S. however was not a party to the agreement, but did send a representative to observe the talks.”
“It’s all in process right now,” Mattis said of the proposal. He posed several questions that needed to be answered including “who is going to be ensuring they’re safe? Who is signing up for it? Who is specifically to be kept out of them? All these details are to be worked out and we’re engaged.”
“The devil is always in the details, right?” Mattis continued. “So we have to look at the details, see if we can work them out, see if we think they’re going to be effective.” But he added: “I think the international community is united in the sense of wanting to see ISIS put on its back foot.”
Mattis comments echo State Department spokesman Edward Vasquez’s denial that the U.S. would abide by Russia’s no-fly zone saying the plan does not “preclude anyone from going after terrorists wherever they may be in Syria,” adding that it “makes no sense.”
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