Thursday, 19 April, 2018

Pentagon Mulls Option to Send Ground Combat Troops into Syria

Syria's President Bashar al Assad speaks to a group of Belgian reporters in this handout REUTERS SANA HandoutAssad Resolutely Opposes Amnesty International Observers Visit to Syria
Melinda Barton | 17 February, 2017, 01:25

Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, said he supports the current USA strategy that includes up to 500 special operators who are tasked with advising and assisting Kurdish and rebel forces against the Islamic State group.

To intensify its battle against ISIS, the Pentagon might propose sending USA ground combat forces into northern Syria for the first time ever. However, their operations have been limited to what the Pentagon describes as training and assisting Kurdish fighters in their battle against Daesh (ISIL) and other terrorist groups.

Already a small number of specials forces operate in the war-torn country, but the previous Obama administration had rejected putting soldiers on the ground.

Also under discussion is increased cooperation with the Russians and the arming of Kurdish groups in northern Syria supported by the U.S., CNN reports. So far, one American service member has been killed in action in Syria.

"So when folks ask, do you need more aggressive [measures], do you need better [rules of engagement], I would tell you that we're being pretty darn prolific right now".

President Donald Trump's first instructions to Defense Secretary James Mattis were to formulate a strategy against Islamic State, and a plan is due by the end of February.

The Pentagon has reportedly not yet presented the ground troops proposal to Trump and said it was one of several being considered for the upcoming administration's military strategy against ISIS.

"Any large-scale deployment of conventional US military forces would represent a marked departure from the strategy advocated by Trump's predecessor, former President Barack Obama, who hoped instead to rely on small special forces teams to train and advise the patchwork of militias with a stake in the militant group's defeat", Military Times said. The Pentagon said the secretary is in close communication with combatant and ground commanders to get recommendations.