US surveillance planes fly over Syria
KABUL (AP) :
The US has begun surveillance flights over Syria after President Barack Obama gave the ok, US officials said, a move that could pave the way for airstrikes against Islamic State militant targets there.
While the White House says Obama has not approved military action inside Syria, additional intelligence on the militants would likely be necessary before he could take that step. Pentagon officials have been drafting potential options for the president, including airstrikes.
One official said the administration has a need for reliable intelligence from Syria and called the surveillance flights an important avenue for obtaining data.
Two US officials disclosed on Monday that Obama had approved the flights, while another US official said yesterday that they had begun. The officials were not authorised to discuss the matter by name, and spoke only on condition of anonymity.
NEED FOR CLARITY
Army General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters in Kabul, Afghanistan, yesterday that the US wants more clarity on the militants in Syria, but declined to comment on the surveillance flights.
The US began launching strikes against the Islamic State inside Iraq earlier this month, with Obama citing the threat to American personnel in the country and a humanitarian crisis in the north as his rationale. Top Pentagon officials have said the only way the threat from the militants can be fully eliminated is to go after the group inside neighbouring Syria as well.