Obama Authorizes Islamic State Recon Flights in Syria
US President Barack Obama on Monday authorized reconnaissance flights over the war-torn nation of Syria, in an apparent prelude to a possible US airstrike on Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) terrorists in the country.
The authorization was confirmed by an administration official speaking to CNN, who said the flights could begin at any point.
However, the US has not asked permission to enter Syrian territory from Syrian President Bashar Assad, who has been committing war crimes in a local bloodbath now in its fourth year, which has killed nearly 200,000 people according to the UN.
Assad's foreign minister Walid Moallem said the Syrian regime is ready to accept US support against IS, but warned against unilateral action or strikes in Syrian territory without permission.
It seems the US has no intention to cooperation with the Syrian regime, as Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby said Monday: "not getting into the hypothetical operations, there's no intention to coordinate with Syrian authorities."
The US previously tried to rescue US journalist James Foley without approval in Syria in a failed attempt; Foley was horrifically beheaded by IS terrorists just recently.
That murder has led to US statements expressing a willingness to expand military activity to hit IS in Syria, after it has been targeting the group in airstrikes in Iraq this month.
IS has been gaining an ever stronger hold in Syria, and on Sunday night captured a major military airport, along with heavy weapons including missiles, tanks, artillery batteries, helicopters and warplanes.
It remains to be seen what American intervention will succeed in doing. On Monday, spokesperson Hussam Al Marie of the "moderate" Free Syrian Army (FSA) said "airstrikes against ISIS inside Syria will not be helpful. Airstrikes will not get rid of ISIS. Airstrikes are like just tickling ISIS."
Regarding the new reconnaissance mission, US Col. (ret.) Peter Mansoor, an ex-aide to former CIA Director Gen. David Petraeus, said sites being targeted will include "equipment parks, training centers, encampments, the sorts of facilities and buildings where ISIS perhaps has its governing facilities."
The recon mission will be conducted as Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, prepares "options to address ISIS both in Iraq and Syria with a variety of military tools including airstrikes," according to Dempsey's spokesperson.
However the lack of direct action against IS in Syria has led Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) to criticize the Obama administration, saying on Monday "the White House is trying to minimize the threat we face in order to justify not changing a failed strategy."