Report: Obama would retaliate if Syria shoots at US military flights

President Obama recently vowed to retaliate against Syrian President Bashar Assad if Syrian forces shoot at U.S. military planes, according to The New York Times

In meetings with foreign policy experts, former government officials, journalists and columnists over the last week, Obama reportedly was heard saying that the campaign against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) wouldn’t be immediately satisfying.

“This isn’t going to be fireworks over Baghdad,” Obama was quoted as saying by a source, the Times reported. 

The newspaper interviewed 10 people who spoke with Obama in the days leading up his prime-time address to the nation Wednesday.

ADVERTISEMENT
Obama conveyed to people in the group that the situation in Syria, for instance, is complicated. He considered the possibility that Assad could order his forces to shoot at U.S. planes that enter Syrian airspace. 

If that were to happen, Obama said he would order U.S. forces to destroy Syria’s air defense system, the Times report said. That scenario could also lead to Assad’s overthrow, Obama said, according to one source. 

Obama also foresaw the conflict as a long-term battle.

“This will be a problem for the next president,” Obama said, according to the report, “and probably the one after that.”  

In an interview that aired on CBS’s “Face the Nation” Sunday, Secretary of State John Kerry said the U.S. wouldn’t coordinate airstrikes with the Assad regime.

Obama said in his speech Wednesday that he wouldn’t hesitate to authorize U.S. airstrikes against ISIS in Syria. Many lawmakers are calling on the White House to seek congressional authorization for such action, but the administration has said Obama already has the authority. 

The White House, meanwhile, is leaning on Congress to approve an authorization to expand a program to train and arm vetted moderate Syrian rebels to help fight ISIS on the ground. Lawmakers have so far appeared divided over the request—some advocate it would help push back ISIS, but others are skeptical the moderate opposition can be trusted.