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>> Searing daily images of destruction and death in Aleppo pushing the US closer than ever to a line it has never crossed in the five year civil war. Possible military action against Russian backed Syrian forces. Sources telling Reuters the use of American force is now squarely on the table as rising tensions with Russia extinguish hopes of restoring a tattered cease fire and as Syrian and Russian planes step up air strikes on the city that has come to symbolize the war's massive human toll.
Foreign policy reporter, Jonathan Landay.>> The Syrian army backed by the Russian Air Force, Russian advisors, long range artillery appear to be making a major push on rebel held east Aleppo. One option that we understand may be on the table is consideration of using US cruise missiles, firing them at remote Syrian military facilities.
That way delivering a message to both the Syrians and the Russians that they should get back to the table, back to the cessation of hostilities and discussions of how to get a political process underway. The problem with that is that it then opens the possibility of retaliation by the Russians, by the Syrians, in some form, or that it will just be ignored.
Or that the United States then gets dragged deeper into a conflict that, certainly, President Barack Obama doesn't want to get dragged any deeper into.>> Other options include allowing Gulf allies to supply rebels with more sophisticated weapons, which an official told Reuters, quote, might cause the Russians to stop and think.
Washington has been bombing Islamic State sites in the east but has avoided direct action in the rest of the country, leaving the field open to Russia which joined the war a year ago, tipping the conflict in favor of its ally Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.>> Except for a mistake in an airstrike several weeks ago against Assad's forces, the United States has restricted its involvement to some lethal aid to the opposition, but mostly the attacking Islamic State.
>> The US and Russia taking opposite sides in the war, but in some ways, cooperating in the fight against ISIL. Another factor forcing Obama's hand, the ferocious assault on Aleppo driving many of the western-backed rebel groups fighting Assad into the arms of jihadist fighters such as Islamic State, undercutting the American strategy