The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and U.S. Special Operations forces have launched a secret campaign to hunt terrorism suspects in Syria as part of a targeted killing program that is run separately from the broader U.S. military offensive against the Islamic State (IS), the Washington Post website reports exclusively today (September 1, 2015).
The CIA and the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) are flying drones over Syria in a collaboration responsible for several recent strikes against senior Islamic State operatives, U.S. officials said. A British militant, Junaid Hussain, and other high-level terrorists have been killed in recent weeks by means of this secret campaign.
The clandestine program represents a significant escalation of the CIA's involvement in the war in Syria, enlisting the agency's Counterterrorism Center (CTC) against a militant Islamic State group that many officials believe has eclipsed al-Qaeda as a threat.
Although the CTC has been given an expanded role in identifying and locating senior Islamic State figures, U.S. officials said the strikes are being carried out exclusively by JSOC. The officials added the program is aimed at terrorism suspects deemed "high-value targets."