06:36 GMT01 April 2020
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    Hardliners in the Obama administration have tried to convince the White House to send more powerful weapons, including MANPADs, to US-backed rebels in Syria, but this strategy does not only pose a risk to Russian aircraft and Damascus-led forces, but also the US military, journalist Vladimir Bychkov wrote for Sputnik.

    "Hotheads in Washington have not abandoned plans to provide powerful modern weapons, including air defense systems, to armed opposition groups in Syria. Terrorist organizations around the world are holding their breath," Bychkov noted.

    The journalist was referring to recent media reports that some in Washington were pushing for increased weapons assistance to the Syrian rebels. If given a go, potential arms deliveries would include systems capable of tackling Russian aircraft and artillery. The idea was ostensibly floated during a recent meeting involving President Barack Obama and his national security advisors, but was neither approved nor dismissed.

    Plan B, as this strategy is often referred to, is expected to remain in limbo until the next US president moves into the White House on January 20, 2017. Obama has been reluctant to escalate violence in Syria since it could further exacerbate relations with Russia.

    But there is another factor that policymakers in Washington should consider before making the final decision with regard to a plan apparently backed by US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter and Director of the Central Intelligence Agency John Brennan. It is a lesson from history that some in Washington have either missed or ignored.

    The US "sent Stingers to mujahideen to fight against the Soviet military in Afghanistan," Bychkov said. "Certainly, this 'charity' later backfired," he added, referencing September 11 attacks. The CIA provided between 500 and 2,000 FIM-92 Stinger Man-Portable Air-Defense Systems (MANPADs) as part of the Operation Cyclone program that ran from 1979 until 1989.

    Bychkov pointed out that Russia and Syria are not the only countries whose planes traverse Syrian skies.

    "There are other aircraft, including American ones. Or do Ashton Carter and John Brennan want US pilots to play 'Russian roulette' in Syria and Iraq? Like it was in Vietnam with old Soviet S-75 Dvina high-altitude air defense systems. I imagine that modern US-built MANPADs are more efficient," he said.

    The US lost more than 58,000 US soldiers in the Vietnam War, he added.

    "How many United States Air Force pilots are Carter and Brennan ready to lose for Assad's 'head'?" the analyst asked.


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    jihadist rebels, man-portable air-defense system (MANPAD), military assistance, Syrian conflict, Syrian crisis, Plan B, Stinger missiles, Ashton Carter, John Brennan, Syria, United States
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