Syrian websites published Tuesday that the U.S. newspaper The Daily Beast reported exclusively that the White House has asked the Pentagon to draw up plans for a no-fly zone inside Syria that would be enforced by the U.S. and other countries such as France and Great Britain.
The Daily Beast was quoting two administration officials who confirmed that the request was made shortly before Secretary of State John Kerry toured the Middle East last week to try and finalize plans for an early June conference between the Syrian regime and rebel leaders in Geneva. The opposition, however, has yet to confirm its attendance and is demanding that the end of Syrian President Bashar al Assad’s rule be a precondition for negotiations, a condition Assad is unlikely to accept.
On Monday, the daily Beast also exclusively uncovered that Sen. John McCain, a proponent of arming Syrian rebels, quietly slipped into Syria for a meeting with anti-government fighters Monday.
The visit took place amid meetings in Paris involving efforts to secure participation of Syria's fractured opposition in an international peace conference in Geneva.
While the Syrian official press did not focus on the visit, all the Syrian websites and bloggers highlighted the visit and gave different interpretations to it.
The visit however was confirmed by any other sources, which gives the daily Beast credibility of the story it published Tuesday.
“The White House is still in contemplation mode but the planning is moving forward and it’s more advanced than it’s ever been,” one administration official told The Daily Beast. “All this effort to pressure the regime is part of the overall effort to find a political solution, but what happens if Geneva fails? It’s only prudent to plan for other options.”