U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called for “immediate” airstrikes on Syria following the White House’s claim that the Syrian government had used chemical weapons against foreign-backed militant groups.
At a White House meeting last Wednesday, Kerry “vociferously” pushed for air strikes on Syrian airfields, Bloomberg reports.
Kerry had postponed a trip to the Middle East to attend the White House meetings where senior U.S. officials discussed “all options” against Syria.
His call for airstrikes was met with resistance as General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that a series of budget cuts known as sequestration had undermined the Pentagon’s ability to implement such a plan.
Gen. Dempsey also said that Kerry’s plan lacked clear entrance and exit strategies, noting that taking out Syrian airfields could not be achieved by simply dropping “a few bombs,” rather it would require more than 700 airstrikes, according to Bloomberg.
On Thursday, President Barack Obama approved military aid for militant groups in Syria.
The decision came after the U.S. intelligence community concluded that the Syrian government had crossed Washington’s “red line” by using chemical weapons against the militants. Damascus has strongly rejected the accusations.
The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is preparing to deliver the arms through clandestine bases in Turkey and Jordan, both neighbors of Syria.
Meanwhile, U.S. military officials have been sent to Jordan to develop a range of options including the possibility of imposing a no-fly zone over parts of Syria.
Members of Congress pressed the Obama administration on Sunday to give the green light to the plan.
Washington’s increasing involvement in Syria comes as a majority of Americans say that the United States should stay out of the conflict. A Gallup poll last month showed that 68 percent of Americans were opposed to any military action in Syria.
Also seventy percent of Americans surveyed by the Pew Research Center said they were against arming the militant groups in Syria.