The Daily Beast reports: U.S. officials are scrambling to find ways to blunt Russian and regime aggression in Syria. But none of the limited set of options currently being crafted would stop the eastern part of the country’s largest city, Aleppo, from falling into the hands of the Bashar al-Assad regime and its Russian allies, two U.S. officials told the Daily Beast.
Rather, lower level American officials are proposing to arm U.S.-backed rebels with more powerful, longer range weapons and surface-to-air weapons to potentially thwart Russian and regime airstrikes. The hope is that such weaponry would be enough for opposition groups to retain their control in other parts of Syria, like the suburbs of Damascus.
The surface-to-air missiles would not include shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles — so-called “MANPADS,” short for “Man Portable Air Defense Systems,” — but rather less mobile systems that would be less likely to end up in the wrong hands, the officials said.
“Those kind of plans are on the table,” one of the U.S. officials explained to The Daily Beast.
But even those plans would be an ambitious sell to the White House, the officials concede, given that the administration has so far rejected direct military intervention in eastern Aleppo. None of those potential proposed responses would be carried out in time to stop the fall of eastern Aleppo into regime hands, which officials have told The Daily Beast is imminent. [Continue reading…]