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US begins Syria spy flights on Islamic State

The United States has begun reconnaissance flights over Islamic State positions in Syria, officials have confirmed. The Department of Defense confirmed on Tuesday the flights by drones and U2 spy planes, which follow around 100 U.S air strikes on IS militants in northern Iraq since August 7. The development indicates America is considering attacks on the insurgents in Syria, although White House spokesman Josh Earnest said President Barack Obama has yet to make a decision to expand the air mission. However, the U.S. said it would not be cooperating with the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad. Earnest said the U.S. did not recognize Assad as Syria’s legitimate leader and added: "There are no plans to coordinate with the Assad regime as we consider this terror threat." On Monday, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem said Syria was willing to co-operate with the international community to combat IS. Meanwhile, U.S. warplanes hit two IS armed vehicles near Kurdish regional capital Irbil on Wednesday, U.S. Central Command said. The air strikes in northern Iraq are in support of Kurdish forces attempting to push back the militants who have made headway since June. U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced on Tuesday that seven countries have joined America in arming Kurdish forces. He said: "In addition to support from the U.S. and the central government of Iraq in Baghdad, seven additional nations — Albania, Canada, Croatia, Denmark, Italy, France and the United Kingdom – have committed to helping provide Kurdish forces urgently needed arms and equipment.”
The announcement came after Hagel commissioned a U.S.-led working group to accelerate supplies to the peshmerga.
"Operations have already begun and will accelerate in the coming days with more nations also expecting to contribute. I would like to thank each of these allies for working alongside the United States military," Hagel added.

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