(CBS News) The Pentagon has expanded the list of potential targets for a U.S. military strike on Syria, based on intelligence indicating that the Assad regime has moved around equipment used to deployin anticipation of a potential attack.
A Pentagon official insisted to CBS News correspondent David Martin that the scope of the operation has not changed, which President Obama has described as limited and tailored. The military began adding new targets to the list as Syrian troops started moving equipment "they think might be targeted and hiding some of it so the U.S. cannot find it again," Martin reports.
The widening list of targets is part of an effort to guarantee that the U.S. can do enough damage to make this strike worthwhile and to truly disincentivize the Syrian regime from using chemical weapons in the future.
"They have to keep adding targets so they have a sufficient target list to accomplish two missions," Martin said, "One is to damage Syria's ability to use chemical weapons again and two, is to discourage the Syrian military from thinking that whatever advantage they get out ofis worth the damage they're going to suffer from a retaliatory strike from the U.S."
Despite the Pentagon official's insistence that the scale of the operation remains the same, Martin reports that adding targets, the possibility of using an aircraft to strike these new locations comes into play and raises the stakes of U.S. involvement. "Aircraft carry bigger weapons than [are] carried on cruise missiles," Martin said.
"Once you add aircraft, you vastly increase the complexity of this operation. You put pilots up in the air and that means you need aerial refueling ... you need search and rescue and all the other things that support a manned mission, as opposed to firing an unmanned cruise missile in Syria."
Under the current plan, the list of military assets that will be needed to carry out the U.S. operation involve only ships in the Eastern Mediterranean. However, Martin reports that a strike on Syria is likely to be a week away and new tactics, involving possible air strikes, could emerge as part of the U.S. strategy in the meantime.