The United States would retaliate against Syrian President Bashar Assad’s air defenses if he were to go after American planes launching airstrikes in his country, a senior Obama administration official said Monday.
Officials also told Fox News that the U.S. has a good sense of where the Syrian air defenses, along with their command and control centers, are located. If Assad were to use those capabilities to threaten U.S. forces, it would put his air defenses at risk, a senior official told Fox News.
President Obama has authorized U.S. airstrikes inside Syria as part of a broad campaign to root out the Islamic State militant group, though no strikes have yet been launched in the country.
Asked Monday about the prospect of striking Assad’s regime if his forces were to target Americans, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said there will be “rules of engagement that are related to any military orders the president directs.”
“It won’t surprise you to know that there are contingencies related to self-defense when it comes to these sorts of rules of engagement,” he said.
The mere discussion of launching strikes in Syria has highlighted the complexity of taking U.S. military action inside a country locked in an intractable civil war. The conflict has created odd alliances, with both the U.S. and the Assad regime now fighting the Islamic State militant group.
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