The deal for U.S. military cooperation with Russia would expand the current mission in Syria far beyond its exclusive focus on Daesh, or the Islamic State group.
And the Pentagon is not happy about it.
The agreement forged by Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart could, for the first time, broaden the American-led air campaign’s target list to include al Nusra, the notorious al-Qaeda-linked group that is a major actor in the multi-sided Syrian civil war. Until now, the two-year-old U.S. air campaign in Syria has been limited to ISIS.
“This could be massive mission creep,” said Josh Landis, director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma. “The military is pissed off because they’re being asked to do two jobs now. They were asked to do one job, which is kill to Daesh. Now John Kerry is asking them to do another job, which is, to cooperate with Russia and kill al Nusra.”
The cease-fire deal reached Sept. 9 calls for the two former Cold War rivals to set up a joint facility for sharing intelligence and coordinating airstrikes against ISIS and al Nusra. The key requirement is adherence to a seven-day cease-fire fire that calls on the Syrian regime and Russia to halt attacks around the city of Aleppo, which has experienced some of the war’s most horrific violence, and allow for sustained delivery of humanitarian aid.
Read More: Military Times
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