TEL AVIV – If the United States were to try and cajole President Bashar al-Assad into negotiating with the rebels by launching a military attack against the Syrian regime, the move would only strengthen the Islamic State and al-Qaeda, a Syrian official told Breitbart Jerusalem.
Dozens of US State Department employees have endorsed an internal document that advocates for US military action to pressure Syria’s government into accepting a cease-fire and engaging in peace talks, officials said Thursday.
The missive was signed by about 50 mid-level department officials who deal with US policy in Syria, according to officials who have seen the document.
The AP reported:
The dissent document was transmitted internally in a confidential form and has since been classified, said officials, who weren’t authorized to discuss such material and insisted on anonymity. The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times both quoted from the document Thursday, saying they had seen or obtained copies.
The Journal said it called for “targeted air strikes.” The Times quoted a section urging a “judicious use of stand-off and air weapons” to advance the US diplomatic effort led by Secretary of State John Kerry.
“The moral rationale for taking steps to end the deaths and suffering in Syria, after five years of brutal war, is evident and unquestionable,” the Times quoted the document as saying. “The status quo in Syria will continue to present increasingly dire, if not disastrous, humanitarian, diplomatic, and terrorism-related challenges.”
The Syrian official, speaking to Breitbart Jerusalem on condition that his name be withheld, warned against this “very dangerous initiative” that proves the “American administration is yet to understand that the main threat to peace and stability in Syria and to world peace lies in radical groups like IS, Nusra Front, and others, and not in the Damascus regime that has demonstrated, according to UN envoy De Mistura, a genuine goodwill to cooperate with any international effort to achieve a cease-fire and national reconciliation.”
Washington must learn from past experience, the official claimed, “when they trained the supposedly moderate wing of the Syrian opposition who, shortly after they were qualified by American military experts, joined Al-Qaeda with their American weapons and military know-how. These cases are recent, which raises many questions about the true intentions of those pushing for military action.”
The official said that the immediate effect of such attack would be a suspension of the Syrian army’s measures against IS, Nusra Front, and other radical groups, and in return dedicate its efforts to facing the American army.
“The last few months have proved that when we’re all fighting together, IS is receding,” he said. “Now these diplomats want to turn the partners in the battle against IS and Al Qaeda against each other.”
“We understand that the prospect of the American army turning against us is unlikely, and in any event the Russians will not allow it to happen,” he added.
On Saturday, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu visited Damascus and met with Assad. The Russian Defense Ministry said that the purpose of the meeting was to consolidate the military cooperation between the countries as they fight against terrorist organizations.
Asked whether the issue of an American attack was brought up in the meeting, the Syrian official declined to comment.
“I cannot answer that question,” he said. “I don’t know whether this issue was brought up. What I can say is that our Russian allies clarified that they would not allow any unilateral measure, be it American, Turkish, or other, that doesn’t target terrorist organizations. No pressure from outside can persuade the Syrian leadership to make concessions to the terrorist organizations. We do want to achieve national reconciliation, but certainly not with the Turkish, Saudi-, and Qatar-backed terrorist organizations, like IS and Nusra Front.”