While the nation's attention was focused on President Barack Obama's meeting Thursday with Republican Donald Trump to smooth out his transition to the White House, the current commander-in-chief also ordered the Pentagon to increase drone attacks and intelligence gathering to take out leaders of al-Nusra in Syria, the Washington Post reported exclusively.
With ties to al-Qaeda, the group previously known as Jabhat al-Nusra is reportedly helping al-Qaeda further deepen its position in the civil war-torn country and remains a serious threat to the government of President Bashar al-Assad, according to the Post. Obama has been agitated by the Pentagon and intelligence agencies' failure to better target al-Nusra. He was told earlier this year that the group was helping al-Qaeda leaders from Afghanistan and Pakistan to establish their strongest foothold since 9/11.
“We have made clear to all parties in Syria that we will not allow al-Qaeda to grow its capacity to attack the U.S., our allies, and our interests,” Lisa Monaco, a homeland security and counterterrorism adviser, told the Post in a statement.
Obama said the same in an August news release, vowing to fight al-Qaeda "no matter what name it calls itself."
The usage of drones, rather than deploying ground forces, has been a key problem and plagued the Obama administration -- especially when the strikes hit an unintended target.
On Wednesday, the U.S. Central Command released a new report that said 119 civilians have been killed over the course of 24 separate strikes since August 2014, according to the Council on Foreign Relations.
Further details in the report reveal the U.S. has fired off 12,354 airstrikes in Iraq and Syria combined, resulting in the death of 45,000 Islamic State group fighters.