White House press secretary Josh Earnest gestures during the daily press briefing at the White House in Washington, Monday, Aug. 25, 2014, where he took questions on ISIS, Iraq, and Syria. He also received congratulations for his newborn baby. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
BEIRUT (AP) — Syria said Monday it was ready to help confront the rising threat from the Islamic State group, but warned the United States against carrying out airstrikes without Damascus’ consent, saying any such attack would be considered an aggression.
In seeking to portray itself as a partner for the international community, Syria seemed intent on capitalizing on the growing clamor among some U.S. officials, including military leaders, to expand the current American air campaign against the Islamic extremists in Iraq and to hit them in Syria as well.
President Barack Obama has long been wary of getting dragged into the bloody and complex Syrian civil war that the United Nations says has killed more than 190,000 people. He has resisted intervening militarily in the conflict, even after a deadly chemical weapons attack a year ago that Washington blamed on President Bashar Assad’s government.
But the extremist group’s rampage across wide swaths of Iraq, declaration of a state governed by their harsh interpretation of Islamic law in territory spanning the Iraq-Syria border, and grisly beheading of an American journalist, have injected a new dynamic into those calculations. Now, Obama faces pressure from his own military leaders to go after the extremists inside Syria.
On Monday, a senior administration official said Obama authorized surveillance flights over Syria, a move that could pave the way for U.S. airstrikes. The official who confirmed the decision was not authorized to discuss Obama’s decision publicly by name, and Login to read more