(CBS/AP) WASHINGTON - Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says plans to set up a no-fly zone over parts of Syria are "not on the front burner," despite persistent calls from rebel forces there that they need the added protection from escalating regime air strikes.
In an interview with The Associated Press on Monday, Panetta said he is confident the U.S. could successfully enforce a no-fly zone over Syria, but doing so would require a "major, major policy decision" that has not yet been made.
"We have planned for a number of contingencies that could take place and one of those possible contingencies is developing a no-fly zone. But we've also pointed out difficulties in being able to implement that," Panetta said. "It's not on the front burner as far as I know."
I am reading in between the lines on this article and what I am getting is President Obama has not yet been willing to commit to setting up a no fly zone in Syria. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is speaking with Turkey trying to discuss the way forward including the possibility of a no fly zone. The administration seems to fear the air defenses of the Assad regime being used against the United States should a no fly zone be established and his chemical and biological weapons stockpiles being used against regional players such as Israel and Turkey. I understand the fear and risk and agree great caution will have to be taken but to do nothing is to allow this regime to continue to kill the Syrian people in large numbers. It is time for a bold move from the Obama administration to send a message both to the Assad regime that we will not tolerate the further killing of innocents and to the Free Syrian fighters and Syrian people we stand with them. A.C.M.