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US sanctions Syria air surveillance

world Updated: Aug 27, 2014 00:58 IST
Yashwant Raj

The United States has started flying surveillance flights over Syria in preparation of airstrikes against Islamic State of Iraq and Syria leaders, fighters and their safe havens.

Citing unidentified US officials, the Associated Press reported on Tuesday surveillance flights had begun.

But the White House insisted Monday President Barack Obama had not yet made a decision on airstrikes — or any other military action — into Syria.

"The President has not made any decision to order military action in Syria," press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters on Monday. The US seems to be tending towards military action in Syria, in addition to hitting them in Iraq. Senior officials said in recent days there was no other way of defeating the outfit.

But, senior military and intelligence officials have doubts if airstrikes or any other military action would be effective in the absence of good intelligence, which, they said, is lacking.

An attempt to rescue American hostages held by the ISIS in Syria failed precisely because by the time the US Special Operations teams reached, they have been moved.

"Clearly the picture we have of ISIS on the Iraqi side is a more refined picture," chairman of the joint chiefs Martin Dempsey told reporters during a visit to Kabul, Afghanistan.

"The existence and activities of ISIS on the Syrian side, we have ... some insights into that but we certainly want to have more insights into that as we craft a way forward."

Meanwhile, Syrian war planes carried out a series of air raids Tuesday on positions held by the ISIS jihadists in eastern Deir Ezzor province, an NGO and state media said. "Syrian army forces targeted headquarters and warehouses storing weapons and ammunition belonging to the terrorist group known as the Islamic State... destroying them completely," Syria’s state news agency SANA reported.