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'CIA may conduct drone missile strikes in Syria'

PTI Los Angeles | Updated on March 12, 2018

The US Central Intelligence Agency is collecting information on Islamic radicals in Syria for possible lethal drone strikes against them at a later stage, according to a media report.

Citing unnamed current and former US officials, The Los Angeles Times had reported late yesterday that President Barack Obama had not authorised any drone missile strikes in Syria yet, and none were under consideration.

However CIA’s Counterterrorism Center, which runs drone programmes targeting militants in Pakistan and Yemen, had recently shifted several targeting officers to improve intelligence gathering on the militants in Syria.

The targeting officers have formed a unit with colleagues who were tracking the Al-Qaeda operatives in Iraq. Veteran militants from Iraq are believed to have moved to Syria and joined anti-government Islamic militias there, the report said.

The targeting officers focusing on Syria are based at the CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, the paper said.

But the agency is working closely with Saudi, Jordanian and other regional spy services active in Syria, according to The Times.

The preparations come as radical Islamic fighters have won a growing share of rebel victories in Syria, the paper said.

The State Department believes that one of the strongest Syrian opposition militias, Al Nusra Front, is a terrorist organisation that is indistinguishable from the group Al-Qaeda in Iraq, it said.

Published on March 16, 2013

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