The United States must take the long view if it is to become involved in Syria’s civil war, a top U.S. Army general told CNN Sunday.
Army General Martin Dempsey, U.S. President Barack Obama’s principal military adviser, told CNN’s State of the Union that the conflict involves serious regional issues that “will persist for 10 years.”
“It is related – not exclusively – but related to a competition at best, and a conflict at worse, between the Sunni and Shia sects of Islam, and it’s been hijacked at some level on both sides by extremists – al Qaeda on one side and Lebanese Hezbollah and others on the other side,” said Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
He added, “This is about a 10-year issue, and if we fail to think about it as a 10-year regional issue, we could make some mistakes.”
Syria’s civil war has been raging for more than two years and has left more than 90,000 dead, according to the United Nations.
The Obama administration announced in June that Syrian government troops had crossed a “red line” by using chemical weapons, prompting it to increase what has so far been non-lethal aid to the opposition. The administration plans to send small arms, ammunition and potentially anti-tank weapons to Syria’s rebels, CNN reported.