Pentagon weighs using force to protect US(CIA)-backed Syria rebels (terrorists) targeted by Russia

Senior U.S. military leaders and defense officials are debating whether military force should be used to protect Washington-backed Syrian rebels who have come under attack by Russian airstrikes in recent days.

The Associated Press reported early Friday that the question was part of a broader debate within the Pentagon about the the broader dilemma of how the administration should respond to what White House press secretary Josh Earnest described as Russia’s “indiscriminate military operations against the Syrian opposition.”

Tensions between the U.S. and Russia are escalating over Russian airstrikes that are serving to strengthen Syrian President Bashar Assad by targeting the so-called “moderate” rebels rather than hitting Islamic State (ISIS) fighters it promised to attack.

A key concern is the prospect of the U.S. and Russia getting drawn into a shooting war in the event that Russian warplanes hit ‘moderate’ Syrian rebels who have been trained and equipped by the U.S. military.

U.S. officials made it clear earlier this year that rebels trained by the U.S. would receive air support in the event they are attacked by either IS or Syrian government troops. Currently, only about 80 U.S.-trained Syrian rebels are back in Syria fighting with their units.

The U.S. policy is very specific. It doesn’t address a potential attack by Russian planes and does not include Syrian rebels who have not been through the U.S. military training, even though they may be aligned with the U.S. or fighting Islamic State militants.

So far, the Russian airstrikes have been in western Syria. The Syrians trained and equipped by the U.S. have primarily been operating in the north.

At worst, if Russia bombs rebels trained by the U.S. and American fighter jets intercede to protect the Syrians, the exchange could trigger an all-out confrontation with Russia — a potential disaster the administration would like to avoid.