Via Times of Israel:
US President Barack Obama has said he would authorize military forces to overthrow Syrian President Bashar Assad if regime troops attempt to shoot down American planes as they strike Islamic State targets in Syria, according to a New York Times report.
The move would represent a significant shift in Washington’s stated aims in Syria and Iraq, where a campaign of airstrikes has been planned to thwart the advance of the IS jihadi group. It also highlights the tangle of alliances and antagonisms in the war-torn region, where the US and Syria, while not allies, find themselves both fighting the same foe.
Citing members of a group of people who met with Obama in a closed meeting last week, The New York Times reported that the president said he would wipe out Assad’s air defense system if he tried to hit American planes. The move, he said, would lead to Assad’s overthrow, according to the newspaper’s account.
Syria’s air defenses have taken a major hit in the country’s north and east, but the air force is still active, firing rockets and dropping crude bombs on rebel-held areas on daily basis.