Speaking to Congress, Centcom Commander General James Mattis warned against plans to arm the assorted rebel factions in Syria, saying that the situation is “too complex” to send weapons and that the US couldn’t count on those weapons not ending up in the hands of US enemies.
This is likely true, with some of the more Islamist factions of the rebellion more or less openly operating as auxiliaries of al-Qaeda, as with Jabhat al-Nusra. Though assorted nations sending arms claim to be very careful not to arm these factions, they always seem awash in weaponry, even as the more moderate factions gripe about their own shortages.
Yet the complex and even-worsening situation in Syria apparently didn’t scare Gen. Mattis off from the prospect of a US or international invasion, and he conceded that he has been “quietly planning” with allies for the possibility of an invasion.
Mattis went on to claim that the US has some unspecified means to “disrupt” the Syrian government’s chemical weapons arsenal, and could effectively prevent their transfer or use. This is in stark contrast to estimates only a few months old from Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey, who said it was “almost unachievable” to prevent any chemical attack.