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How a US strike on Syria might look: cyberwar could play key role

The Pentagon is planning for a military operation in Syria, which could include a cyberattack on its air defenses. But analysts warn that intervention could spark a costly civil war.

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A Syrian man walks next to a wall with the Syrian revolutionary flag painted on it and Arabic writing which reads 'freedom,' in northern Syria, Sunday, June 3.

AP

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With the US stepping up its rhetoric against the Assad regime and the killing of civilians in Syria, the Pentagon is engaged in contingency planning for a military operation there that could include a cyberwarfare attack.

But even as military planners voice optimism that the US possesses the vast technical superiority and tactical ingenuity to overcome Syria’s robust air defenses and air force, defense analysts warn that Western military intervention could cause Syria to erupt in a civil war that would eclipse the Iraq war in devastation and mayhem.

It remains to be seen whether the depth of these political concerns nullifies any deterrent effect discussion of the US military planning could have on the Syrian regime.

On Friday, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta warned that the situation in Syria is “intolerable” and that President Bashar al-Assad must go, but added that any military operation the Pentagon is planning would not come without broad support from the international community.

So far the US and Western powers have been unable to overcome Russian and Chinese objections to any diplomatic initiatives that could pave the way for the use of force in Syria. But even if that broad support is forthcoming, the military operation would not be an easy one, or one on par with, say, Libya.

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