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Obama to Send Troops to Syria

President Barack Obama announced on Friday that he will commit troops to Syria to combat ISIS and to maintain a presence in the region against the Russians.

The Russians have already committed troops to the region, prompting the United States to answer or lose credibility.

ABC News reports:

The change would station U.S. special operations forces on the ground for the first time in Syria in its fight against the Islamic State after thousands of airstrikes in the past year produced mixed results, although their mission is expected to be primarily advisory.

The change “is consistent with strategy to intensify the battle against ISIS,” a White House senior official told ABC News.

A U.S. official says the White House will announce that President Obama has authorized somewhere around 50 special operations forces to go into Syria to work with the rebel group known as the Syrian Arab Coalition. These forces will work along the Syrian border and not on the front lines with the rebel groups. They will provide training, assistance and advise just as U.S. troops are doing in Iraq.

The Syrian Arab Coalition is an umbrella group of 5,000 fighters from 10 moderate rebel groups that have been fighting ISIS in northeastern Syria. Earlier this month the United States airdropped 50 tons of ammunition to this group in the first phase of the reorganized train-and-equip program that struggled to train moderate Syrian rebels.

The special operations advisers going to Syria will operate close to the Iraqi border and will not be in combat. They will work with the Syrian Arab Coalition to facilitate airstrikes, but they are not forward air controllers. They will be at the group’s headquarters speeding up coordination of potential airstrikes.

The White House is expected to characterize the change as “an enhancement” of the existing training, advisory and assist mission in Iraq against ISIS. There will not be additional troops for Iraq though there will likely be a redistribution of existing forces there to better work with Iraqi forces.

Photo credit: Mychal Massie.

 

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