Obama authorizes using air power to defend a new U.S.-backed fighting force in Syria if it is attacked by Syrian government forces or other groups, raising the risk of the American military coming into direct conflict with the regime of Assad. Though the new rules allow Pentagon strikes to defend the U.S.-allied force against any regime attacks, U.S. military officials play down the chances of a direct confrontation. The newly trained force is committed to fighting Islamic State, not the Syrian regime, and won’t be fielded in areas the regime controls. U.S. officials say they believe the regime won’t challenge the new force.
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