U.S. rules out coordinating with Assad on airstrikes against ISIS in Syria

The Washington Post reports: The Obama administration has ruled out the possibility of coordinating U.S. airstrikes in Syria with President Bashar al-Assad’s government, forcing U.S. officials to design a campaign that would evade Syrian air defenses or coordinate it with Assad through a third party.

Despite the shared U.S. and Syrian interest in defeating Islamist militants in the region, there will be no cooperation with Assad, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Tuesday.

“We’re not going to ask for permission from the Syrian regime,” she said.

With top U.S. officials describing the Islamic State militant group as a growing threat to international security, some form of stepped-up U.S. action appears increasingly likely and could include an expansion of American airstrikes from Iraq into Syria. Whether done in concert with Assad or not, such strikes would be a strategic benefit to Assad more than three years after the start of the uprising against his rule.

Airstrikes, even if officially opposed by Assad as a violation of Syrian sovereignty, would also put Obama and Assad on the same side of a war Obama has been loath to join. [Continue reading…]

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