CNN quotes Rafik Hariri Center Senior Fellow Frederic Hof on the key questions that remain in thinking about the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham:

Last week, Atlantic Council senior fellow and Syria expert Frederic Hof said a U.S. rescue mission for Foley earlier this year that went into Syria but failed to find him established the precedent for military action across the Iraq border, superseding any legal considerations such as being asked by the host government to enter.

“The sort of legal barrier that prohibited doing something inside Syria now seems to have evaporated,” Hof said.

The Syrian offer to help fight ISIS comes after al-Assad’s government enabled the group to expand amid the Syrian civil war. ISIS fighters have attacked the Syrian opposition fighting government forces, but also have seized some government territory.

Al-Assad’s military recently launched its own air strikes on ISIS positions, amounting to what Hof described as a dispute between crime gangs over money — in this case, from oil fields occupied by ISIS.

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