Chairman of the US Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey arrived in Israel Monday, Aug. 12 for critical talks with Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Defense minister Moshe Ya’alon and Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, followed by parallel talks in Jordan. debkafile reports he has come to lay the ground ahead of President Barack Obama’s final decision to embark on limited US military intervention in the Syria civil war.
The Obama plan, if it goes forward, would involve Saudi Arabia, Emirates, Israel, Jordan and possibly Turkey. debkafile’s Washington and military sources reveal its 11 high points – most of which were first reported exclusively in DEBKA Weekly 598 on Aug. 1:
1. US, British, French, Saudi and United Arab Emirates will establish a no-fly zone over central and southern Syria, stretching from the Jordanian-Israeli borders up to and including Damascus.
2. The Israeli Air Force will provide these forces with air cover from Syrian air space.
3. A 40-kilometer deep military buffer zone will be drawn from the Jordanian-Israeli borders up to the southern and western outskirts of Damascus. The military units controlling this zone will hold the entire area of the capital within artillery range.
4. The southern Syrian town of Deraa, where the Syrian uprising sprang up, will be declared capital of Liberated Syria.
5. President Obama has determined that there will no American troops in the buffer zone or anywhere else on Syrian soil, only special Syrian rebel forces.
6. Those forces will consist of 3,000 fighters trained in Jordan by US military instructors. They will be headed by Jordanian special forces and operate under US officers based in Jordan.
7. To host them, the US Army has just finished building in the Hashemite Kingdom a huge training camp and logistical system, debkafile’s military sources report. All the weapons and equipment required to train and arm the rebel force are already stacked there.
8. The American operational command center for the Syrian operation is already in place in Amman led by US Brig. Gen. John Wright, who at 57 is a veteran of the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya.
9. The US air force units for imposing the no-fly zone over Syria are already in position at Middle East locations and ready to go at 36 hours’ notice.
10. A Druze unit trained by US military instructors will be a key component of the special rebel force. It was put up by the million-strong community which populates 120 villages and towns in the Jabal al-Druze area of southern Syria. They are situated in a commanding position overlooking the Syrian-Jordanian-Iraqi border triangle.
11. US forces deployed in the Middle East, especially in Jordan and Israel, will stand ready for possible reprisals against American, Israeli, Jordanian or Turkish targets, if ordered by Syrian President Bashar Assad in retaliation for the no-fly and buffer zones.