Syria situation remains difficult -, Longview, Jacksonville, Texas | ETX News

Syria situation remains difficult

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Peter Theo Curtis was recently released by the Islamist rebels who had detained him for two years. (Tucson Sentinel/CNN) Peter Theo Curtis was recently released by the Islamist rebels who had detained him for two years. (Tucson Sentinel/CNN)

(CNN) - Even after militants in Syria released an American citizen, the unrest in the region continued to be a concern for the U.S. government.

President Barack Obama has authorized reconnaissance flights over Syria  as officials consider expanding action against ISIS militants.

The release of a captured American journalist came as a welcome surprise for his mother, Nancy Curtis.

She told ABC World News Tonight she asked intermediaries a "proof-of-life" question: What did her son write about in his doctoral dissertation?

"And it came back, 'The Western Museum,' and I thought, 'Yes!' That's right, and nobody would know that," she said.

When Peter Theo Curtis disappeared in late 2012, he was working as a freelance journalist amid the unrest in Syria.

The Obama administration stood strongly opposed to the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, asking Congress last year to approve airstrikes against his forces.

"We would have preferred Assad go two years ago, a year ago, six months ago, two months ago," Obama said.

Now Assad's regime says it is ready to accept support from the U.S., as ISIS fighters take control of a Syrian air base.

So far, Obama has only authorized reconnaissance flights over Syria, but U.S. officials are considering acting against ISIS targets in Syria, despite the regime's warnings against such strikes without permission.

"There's no plans to have in-depth discussions with the Assad regime what we may or may not do inside Syria," Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby said.

Analysts warn attacking ISIS targets in Syria could have unintended consequences: potentially strengthening the position of Assad's regime.

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