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  • The U.S. air-force is flying spying missions in Syria  (Source: Reuters)

    The U.S. air-force is flying spying missions in Syria (Source: Reuters)

Published 27 August 2014

Fears mount of protracted U.S. military presence in Syria and Iraq.

The Obama administration is attempting to broaden its Western and regional coalition as it seeks to step-up military operations against the self-declared Islamic State, reported the New York Times Wednesday, amid fears of an extended Western military action in the region. 

White House officials, speaking on condition of anonymity to the Times, said Britain and Australia are willing to join potential U.S. bombardments in Syria.

The Australian government is expecting a call from Washington this week and will respond immediately according to Australian news sources.

News Corp Australia revealed that secret plans have been drawn up for Australian elite troops to be deployed in Iraq in support of the U.S. mission there.

UK Premier David Cameron said Wednesday he will indicate to the US and other nations, at a NATO summit next week, that his country is keeping the option of joining strikes against the Islamic State open.

The UK envoy to Oman said on Wednesday that UK military participation is possible within the context of an international coalition. "This is such a complicated conflict that any response needs to be a well co-ordinated international effort" said Alan Duncan.

UK fighter jets are already flying missions in Iraq.

On Tuesday, U.S. President Obama said he is preparing a coalition to militarily respond to the Islamic State. Raising worries of protracted Western military presence in Iraq and Syria he said "Rooting out a cancer like [the Islamic State] won't be easy, and it won't be quick."

Regional Coalition Against Islamic State

The US is also seeking to involve regional allies in its effort against the Islamic State.

The U.S. officials speaking in the New York Times on Wednesday, said they are requesting Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirate and Jordan to shore-up support for what they called moderate Syrian rebels opposing Syrian President Bashar Al Assad.

The US and its allies in the Middle-East have financially and militarily supported various jihadi groups in Syria, including the Islamic State, when an armed opposition emerged against President Assad.

This support seems to have back-fired when the Islamic State seized a quarter of Iraq and a third of Syria.

The US is now seeking to support what it calls ''moderate'' armed groups against Bashar Al Assad - a long-standing opponent of U.S. ambitions in the Middle-East - while rejecting renewed Syrian offers to cooperate against the Islamic State.

Observers argue there is no way to separate between moderates and extremists when engaging in a complicated conflict as the Syrian one. Some critics worry the US and its regional allies will continue to support other Al-Qaida affiliated groups in Syria, like Jabhat Al Nusra, which are more ''tamable'' than the Islamic State, as former CIA operative Bob Baer put it.

This week, President Obama stepped-up operations against the Islamic State. He authorized spying missions in Syria as the Pentagon prepares military options to strike targets in the country.

The U.S. air-force started bombing Islamic State positions in northern Iraq in early August. The number of civilian fatalities of U.S. operations in Iraq remains unknown so far.

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