The US military is planning for airstrikes against ISIL militants in Syria despite warnings by Damascus about such operations on its soil without its permission.
The spokesman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on Monday said all military options to address ISIL, including airstrikes, are being reviewed, both in Iraq and Syria.
“With Central Command, [Dempsey] is preparing options to address [ISIL] both in Iraq and Syria with a variety of military tools including airstrikes,” Colonel Ed Thomas said.
He also highlighted the need to form a coalition with regional and European countries in the campaign against the militants.
President Barack Obama has made no decision on obtaining Syria’s approval, but the Defense Department says it is ready to use force against the militants operating in Syria to disrupt the groups’ operations and kill its senior leaders.
Last week, General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the group’s threat needed to be addressed in both Iraq and Syria.
The Pentagon has already begun airstrikes on the militants’ positions in Iraq.
ISIL, also known as ISIS, controls large parts of Syria’s northern territory. The savage group sent its fighters into neighboring Iraq in June, quickly seizing large swaths of territory straddling the border between the two countries.
American officials say the militant group is growing in strength and is much more capable than the one US forces faced when the group was called “al-Qaeda-Iraq” during the US war in Iraq from 2003-2011.
On Monday, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem warned the US and its allies against attacking ISIL targets on Syrian soil.
“Syria is ready to cooperate and coordinate with regional and international efforts to combat terror in accordance with UN resolutions and respect of Syrian sovereignty,” he told reporters in Damascus.
“Everyone is welcome, including Britain and the United States, to take action against ISIS and Nusra with a prior full coordination with the Syrian government,” Moallem continued.
Senior US officials said Monday that the Pentagon was sending in manned and unmanned surveillance flights over Syria, using a combination of aircraft, including drones and possibly U2 spy planes.
The Obama administration has been planning military intervention in Syria since ISIL carried out what US officials called its first “terrorist attack” against the US, referring to last week’s killing of American journalist James Foley.