Small Wars Journal

Top U.S. Commander Warns Against Syrian-Russian Offensive in Idlib

Top U.S. Commander Warns Against Syrian-Russian Offensive in Idlib by Nancy A. Youssef – Wall Street Journal

The top U.S. military commander said Tuesday that a precise counterterrorism campaign—not a full-scale military offensive—was the appropriate way to tackle extremist elements in northwest Syria, as an assault by the Syrian regime and its backers appeared imminent.

Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said he feared that a possible assault in Syria’s Idlib province, home to roughly three million people, could lead to a “humanitarian catastrophe.”

“We don’t see any way that significant military operations are going to be beneficial to the people of Syria,” Gen. Dunford told reporters traveling with him. “And we know if past is prologue, given the difficult terrain and operating environment inside of Idlib, that if major operations take place, we can expect a humanitarian catastrophe, and we would all want to see that be avoided.”

The comments by Gen. Dunford, combined with a Twitter post a day earlier by President Trump, represented the most pointed warning by U.S. officials regarding plans by Syrians and Russians to go after rebels in Idlib province.

Mr. Trump, in his first comments about Idlib, warned Monday against an assault, but did not spell out a possible U.S. response…

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