Obama ‘authorises spy flights over Syria

U.S. President Barack Obama wipes a tear as he speaks about the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, during a press briefing at the White House in Washington December 14, 2012. A tearful President Obama expressed "overwhelming grief" for the victims of a shooting rampage at a Connecticut elementary school and called on Americans to set aside politics and "take meaningful action" to prevent more tragedies of this kind. A heavily armed gunman opened fire on school children and staff at a Connecticut elementary school on Friday, killing 26 people including 18 children in the latest in a series of shooting rampages that have tormented the United States this year, U.S. media reported.     REUTERS/Yuri Gripas  (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS CRIME LAW)

President Barack Obama has authorised surveillance flights over Syria in order to gather intelligence on the Islamic State group, a senior US administration official said.

Tuesday’s move could mark the first step towards US air strikes against targets inside Syria.

The official, who spoke to the AP news agency, was not authorised to discuss Obama’s decision by name and spoke only on condition of anonymity.

The White House said Obama has not yet made a decision on whether to take military action inside Syria.

The US is already launching air strikes against Islamic State targets in Iraq. The group announced last week that it had murdered an American journalist in Syria and was threatening more US hostages.

The Reuters news agency had earlier reported that Washington was planning to send surveillance aircraft, including unmanned drones, to gain a clearer picture of the Islamic State fighters, who have seized territory in both Syria and Iraq.

The Wall Street Journal said that US Central Command, which oversees American forces in the Middle East, had asked for additional surveillance planes to be used in Syria.

The surveillance planes would provide information in addition to that already collected by US satellites and informants, the journal said.

‘US dilemma’

Joshua Landis, a prominent analyst on Syria, told Al..

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