U.S. President Barack Obama has authorized reconnaissance flights over Syria as ISIS militants continue to gain ground in the war-ravaged nation, a U.S. official told CNN.
The flights - seen as a forerunner of possible U.S. airstrikes against ISIS in Syria - could begin at any point, the official said Monday.
"In general, when you're thinking about conducting operations like that, you certainly want to get as much of a view on the ground as you can," Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby said earlier Monday in a conversation with CNN's Wolf Blitzer.
"Satellites can provide you good visibility, but you always want closer eyes on target if you can," Kirby said, before Obama's decision was made public.
Concerns have been intensifying over the threat posed by ISIS after the extremist group posted a video last week showing the beheading of captive American journalist James Foley.
The United States has already been gathering intelligence on the locations of ISIS leadership and troops in Syria, two U.S. officials told CNN on Friday.
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Up to 100 U.S. special forces - probably Green Berets, Army Rangers and Navy SEALs - would go to Iraq to advise its military and collect intelligence under a Pentagon plan offered to President Barack Obama, according to several U.S. officials.
An announcement on the plan could come Thursday, though the officials made clear that Obama will decide whether to accept it and when to announce it.
Obama is under pressure to help the embattled Iraqi government stave off a lightning advance toward Baghdad by Sunni fighters of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
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Officials call the attack "massive and unprecedented."
At least 65 suspected terrorists killed. Assaults from both the ground and the sky. And elite, clandestine U.S. forces joining Yemeni commandos in targeting al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula - considered al Qaeda's most dangerous affiliate.
But what would make the raid in southern Yemen most significant is if it yielded a target the Americans and the Yemenis have been looking for: Ibrahim al-Asiri, the group's chief bomb maker.
Al-Asiri is among those suspected to have been killed in the Sunday firefight, a high-level Yemeni government official told CNN. But DNA test results are not due for several days.
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Yet another theory is taking shape about what might have happened to missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370: Maybe it landed in a remote Indian Ocean island chain.
The suggestion - and it's only that at this point - is based on analysis of radar data revealed Friday by Reuters suggesting that the plane wasn't just blindly flying northwest from Malaysia.
Reuters, citing unidentified sources familiar with the investigation, reported that whoever was piloting the vanished jet was following navigational waypoints that would have taken the plane over the Andaman Islands.