US Official: Obama Approves Surveillance Flights Over Syria
A senior White House official says U.S. President Barack Obama has authorized surveillance flights over Syria.
The official said late Monday that Mr. Obama has not approved any military action, but that the U.S. is preparing military options for combating the Islamic State fighters who have taken over large areas in eastern Syria and northern and western Iraq.
U.S. planes have been carrying out airstrikes in Iraq, helping Iraqi and Kurdish forces take back territory from the militants, including a dam in Mosul that is key to providing power to many in Iraq.
Pentagon officials have expressed the need to go after the Islamic State group on both sides of the border.
The operation is complicated by the ongoing civil war in Syria. White House officials say Mr. Obama does not want U.S. action to be seen as aiding Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who has repeatedly blamed "terrorists" for the conflict that has raged in his country for more than three years.
Russia, Ukraine Leaders to Meet in New Peace Push
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko meets Tuesday with Russian President Vladimir Putin, as Kyiv levels new accusations against Moscow of fueling a pro-Russian insurgency in eastern Ukraine.
The meeting in Minsk, Belarus, which also includes senior European Union officials, represents a fresh diplomatic push to end five months of fighting that has left over 2,000 people dead.
It comes a day after President Poroshenko dissolved parliament and called for early elections on October 26. In a televised statement, he said the vote is necessary in order to "cleanse" parliament.
Mr. Poroshenko said the last parliamentary election in 2012 was neither free nor fair. He said most lawmakers have lost the Ukrainian people's trust, noting there are "quite a few" members of parliament who support pro-Russian separatists in the east.
Also Monday, the Ukrainian military said it halted a column of Russian tanks and armored vehicles that had crossed into southeastern Ukraine. Kyiv says the fighters were disguised as rebels. It said at least two of the tanks have been destroyed.
Moscow has not commented on the alleged intrusion, which is the latest reported attempt by Moscow to intervene in the separatist insurgency.