Intelligence director warns against no-fly zone, conflict with Russia

Addressing the increasingly delicate situation in Syria at an event hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper on Tuesday warned of the consequences should Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s proposal for a no-fly zone in the skies over the war-torn country be enforced.

Clapper expressed fear the presence of American or Western aircraft patrolling above Syria could invite an attack by Russian or Syrian forces on the ground.

“I’m not a mind reader, but I do take seriously the very sophisticated air defense system and air defense coverage that the Russians have,” Clapper told attendees at the Council’s event.

“I wouldn’t put it past them to shoot down an American aircraft if they felt that was threatening to their forces on the ground.” 

The former Secretary has distanced herself from the Obama administration’s Syria policy and recurrently asserted the need for a no-fly zone over Syria to prohibit Russian and Syrian aircraft from conducting bombing missions targeting Aleppo.

As recently as Oct. 19, during the final of three presidential debates against New York businessman Donald Trump, Clinton again declared a no-fly zone could prevent civilian fatalities.

Although Clinton’s stance is at odds with Mr. Obama, it has gained support from Senate Armed Services Committee chair, Sen. John McCain.

In contrast to Clinton’s no-fly motion, GOP nominee Donald Trump echoed Mr. Clapper’s concerns during a Wednesday interview, saying:

“What we should do is focus on ISIS. We should not be focusing on Syria.  You’re going to end up in World War Three over Syria if we listen to Hillary Clinton.”

Trump followed with an emphasis on defeating ISIS and removing Assad a secondary concern.

 

[The Hill] [Photo courtesy fort-russ.com]