American planes could strike against anyone who attacks US-trained Syrian rebels in northern Syria, even if the enemy forces are loyal to the Assad regime—a policy change first reported in the Wall Street Journal on Sunday. The report comes after the Free Syrian Army and the New Syrian Forces repelled an attack by an unknown enemy on July 31. Navy Capt. Jeff Davis told reporters Monday at the Pentagon that the US provided “defensive support fire” in the engagement. Defense Department spokeswoman Cmdr. Elissa Smith said the US has always viewed the Syrian forces it trains and equips as partners in the fight against ISIS, and that the Defense Department has “said all along that we would take the steps necessary to ensure that those forces could successfully carry out their mission.” Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) praised the decision to provide additional support, though he said he is concerned the policy is too incremental. “Equivocation over such a basic and obvious question as supporting the fighters we train is indicative of the Administration’s indecisive policy concerning Syria, Iraq, and ISIL that has allowed security conditions to spiral into chaos,” he said in a written news release. US and coalition forces conducted 11 airstrikes in Syria on Friday, according to the Pentagon.
An Air Force C-17 transport jet recently tested a new technology that could help aviators stay on course even if the satellite-based Global Positioning System (GPS) that much of modern-day aviation relies on is compromised.