Despite saber-rattling by the United States over Syria’s apparent use of chemical weapons on rebel forces, the country is unlikely to launch a military strike, according to Rick Francona, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel.
"Given the current climate, I don’t think . . . either the president or the secretary of state are interested in getting involved in any kind of military action in Syria — unless there's some sort of coalition they bolt together like they did in Libya," Francona told "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV.
"But I don't see any real initiative coming from the United States."
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On Monday, Secretary of State John Kerry said there was "undeniable" evidence of a large-scale chemical weapons attack in Syria, with evidence pointing to Bashar al-Assad's regime.
"This international norm cannot be violated without consequences," said Kerry, who stopped short of saying how the United States will respond.
Francona said the use of chemicals by Syrian armed forces shows that the Assad regime is desperate.
"There's no reason to use chemicals when they have overwhelming conventional firepower," he said.
"The resort to chemicals tells me he's very concerned that he may lose that battle on the outskirts of Damascus … What really matters is who controls Damascus and the rebels know this and they're making a push for it and this use of chemicals tells me that they're gaining some traction there."
Francona, a former air attache to the U.S. embassy in Damascus and a specialist in Middle East affairs, said the United States could respond by shutting down Syrian air space.
"[The rebels’] fear is what's coming from the sky. They have no adequate air defenses … the Syrians just fly high, they fly fast, and they drop a lot of munitions every day on these rebel strongholds," he said.
"We could declare a no-fly zone without having to put American aircraft in the sky. You could shut down the command of control, you could crater the runways, we could do that from off shore. But the question is, will we?"
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