Will U.S. Surveillance Of ISIS Lead To Airstrikes In Syria?

The Pentagon will send surveillance aircraft and drones to monitor ISIS in Syria, leading to media speculation that airstrikes won't be far behind.

Will U.S. Surveillance Of ISIS Lead To Airstrikes In Syria?
U.S. Air Force / Staff Sgt. Brian Ferguson

So far, America's involvement in the battle against militant group ISIS stopped at the Syrian border. While U.S. airstrikes in Iraq have helped drive ISIS back, the group's main operations in Syria have gone unchallenged by the U.S. (Video via U.S. Central Command)

But that might be about to change. New reports suggest the U.S. is preparing to conduct surveillance flights over Syrian airspace in order to gather intelligence on ISIS — presumably for possible airstrikes against the group.

That information comes from a senior military official who told The Wall Street Journal U.S. Central Command has requested more surveillance craft, including drones, to operate over ISIS-held regions in eastern Syria. The official says "There is no decision yet to do strikes, but in order to help make that decision, you want to get as much situational awareness as possible."

The White House has kept quiet about potential air strikes in Syria. In a briefing Monday, press secretary Josh Earnest implied the Pentagon has drawn up plans for Syrian strikes among other options, but didn't confirm whether President Obama was discussing those plans.

And it's not hard to see why the U.S. is being cautious about airstrikes. Syria's government has made it very clear any attacks against ISIS inside Syria's borders without the regime's express permission will be considered an act of aggression against the government. (Video via CBS)

As we reported earlier, expanding anti-ISIS operations into Syria will likely require the U.S. to work with Syrian president Bashar al-Assad — an uncomfortable prospect, considering America was on the verge of bombing Assad's forces last year.

For now, the Pentagon appears to be sticking to surveillance aircraft, which will reportedly be entering Syria without the regime's permission.