Reportedly, US President Barack Obama has not approved airstrikes in Syrian territory, nor was the possibility discussed in the White House.
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The officials added, however, that the Counterterrorism Center, which is responsible for running the CIA’s secret program for drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen, has recently ordered a group of targeting officers to improve intelligence collection on Syrian militants who could pose a terrorist threat.
Intelligence gathering is part of the US administration's contingency plans for a post-Assad era.
Allocating resources to Syria stems mainly from the fear that the country will harbor terrorists. The intelligence collected by the CIA, the Times assessed, could also help more moderate forces in the Syrian opposition to overcome extremists.
As part of the CIA's efforts, agency officials have met with Syrian rebels in Turkey and Jordan.
The notion of using armed drones in Syria seems extreme to some CIA officials who say there is no evidence that Syrian extremists indeed pose a threat to the US.
"If we do this, why don't we start droning people in Hezbollah ?" a former CIA officer inquired.
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