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West likely won't mount air campaign in Syria

April 21, 2013 at 10:23 AM

ISTANBUL, Turkey, April 21 (UPI) -- Western diplomats said they did not expect the international community to agree to calls for airstrikes against Syria's embattled regime.

Representatives of the Syrian rebels Saturday urged the so-called Friends of Syria group to send in warplanes to enforce a no-fly zone over northern Syria and also knock out the government's Scud missile sites.

The request came during a weekend meeting of the 11 Friends of Syria nations in Turkey where diplomats told The Wall Street Journal a major air campaign was probably a reach.

"The gap between what the opposition wants and what the international community is willing to provide is pretty wide," said one official, who declined to be identified.

The rebels said dampening the threat of missile attacks and airstrikes would give them the cover they needed to establish a more-effective government and lessen the likelihood of a chemical-weapons attack.

But The Journal said the rebels' international allies were less willing to send its forces against Syrian air defenses, and were concerned about the increasing presence of foreign militants in the rebel ranks. At the same time, the Friends of Syria nations recently said they would increase its military assistance, including possibly lifting the European Union's embargo on weapons.

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