Airstrikes may include targets in Syria

Airstrikes may include targets in Syria

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The terrorist group ISIS also has fought against Syrian President Assad. (Source: FOX) The terrorist group ISIS also has fought against Syrian President Assad. (Source: FOX)

WASHINGTON, DC (FOX) - The Pentagon is confirming late Friday that the U.S. has established 24-hour surveillance in northern Iraq.

It is also known that American special operations advisers will start arriving in Iraq very soon.

U.S. airpower may not be far off.

As Kurdish forces tried to hunt down militants from the al-Qaida offshoot ISIS on Friday in the key city of Kirkuk, White House aides confirmed that President Barack Obama is weighing U.S. airstrikes targeting the militants not just in Iraq but in Syria as well.

"There is a willingness by this president that has been determined, that has been demonstrated to act, where necessary, to safeguard the national security interests of the United States," said Josh Earnest, White House principal deputy press secretary.

Except the president also talked about airstrikes in Syria last year and walked right up to the line of launching them against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad until the White House sought a consensus on Capitol Hill that never came, and pulled back on the airstrikes.

On Friday, Assad's longtime ally, Russian President Vladimir Putin, spoke by telephone with embattled Iraqi Prime Minister Nori al-Maliki.

The Kremlin released a statement saying Maliki briefed Putin on the measures he's taking to battle the militants and the Putin pledged "full support for the Iraqi government's efforts to liberate Iraqi territory from the terrorists' hands as quickly as possible."

Though after months of trouble from Putin in Ukraine, U.S. officials are viewing his involvement in Iraq warily.

"To help stabilize Iraq and support a, uh, the governing in a non-sectarian united manner certainly, but again I don't have any more details of their call," said U.S. State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki.

The continued tension in Iraq comes amid more violence in Afghanistan that has its own turmoil.

Taliban suicide bombers have targeted NATO fuel trucks. Three American service members were killed in an IED attack in southern Afghanistan.

All this as Republicans warn that when U.S. troops leave Afghanistan for good in two years, the security situation could collapse just like in Iraq.

"We're on the verge of doing the same thing in Afghanistan. I promise you the Taliban would be dancing in the streets. They just do not believe in dancing," said U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-SC.

White House officials say while it may not be easy, Iraq and Afghanistan eventually have to stand on their own.

"Is the alternative a commitment of personnel indefinitely? In countries like Afghanistan and Iraq? They're welcome to make that case. The president doesn't believe that's in the national security interests of the United States," Earnest said.

On Friday the very powerful leader of Iraq's Shiite majority called for a new government in Baghdad, including Maliki. That's a sign his days are numbered.

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