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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Can The U.S. Hurt ISIS Without Helping Assad?

Syrian President Bashar Assad is pictured in Tehran, Iran, August 2009. (Vahid Salemi/AP)

Syrian President Bashar Assad is pictured in Tehran, Iran, August 2009. (Vahid Salemi/AP)

The U.S. has begun to fly spy missions over Syria to gather intelligence on the militant group ISIS.

President Obama approved the air surveillance amid reports that the U.S. may expand the fight against ISIS into Syria. ISIS has taken control of a large swath of territory from the regime of Syrian President Assad, over the course of Syria’s civil war.

Syria’s foreign minister says his government was willing to “cooperate and coordinate” on action against ISIS, but warned that any unilateral action by an outside power will be considered, “an act of aggression” against Syria. The White House says in case of any U.S. action in Syria, President Obama has no plans to collaborate with the Syrian regime.

President Obama met yesterday with military advisers, including defense secretary Chuck Hagel, to consider military options that reportedly include strikes against ISIS positions near the Iraq border and targeting ISIS leaders and positions around the city of Raqqa, the group’s stronghold in Syria.

Regional experts say the U.S. is faced with a difficult problem — weakening ISIS could strengthen the hand of Syrian president Bashar Assad in the country’s long-running civil war.

Here & Now contributor Jim Walsh, who is an expert in international security with MIT’s Security Studies Program, discusses U.S. options with host Sacha Pfeiffer.

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