U.S. does not want to cross Iran’s ‘red line’ in Syria

Reporting the Obama administration’s decision “to provide pickup trucks equipped with machine guns and radios for calling in U.S. airstrikes to some moderate Syrian rebels,” the Wall Street Journal notes: U.S. officials have said if the U.S. begins attacking Assad’s forces, the uneasy peace between Iran, an Assad ally, and the U.S. in Iraq will break down and Iranian-backed militias could begin targeting U.S. forces there.

Iranian leaders have told supporters in Iraq not to attack U.S. bases, but that detente could dissolve if the war in Syria expanded to take on Mr. Assad, U.S. officials say.

“Because we have a common enemy, a common goal, everybody is moving in the same direction,” said the senior military official. “You cross a red line in Syria, you start to infringe on what Iran sees as its long-term interest and those Shia militias could turn in the other direction.”

Military officials said their ability to control the rebels will be limited once they are on the battlefield. However, the senior official said the U.S. will have some leverage, including ammunition resupply, stipends paid to the fighters and support from airstrikes. “All those things could be put at risk if they go counter to what we have asked them to do,” the official said. [Continue reading…]

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