Obama to send special forces to fight IS
October 30, 2015 7:09 pm
The US is sending special forces to Syria to assist anti-government rebels in fighting the so-called Islamic State (IS), officials have said.
There will be “fewer than 50” forces deployed in the region to “train, advise and assist” vetted opposition forces, said officials.
This will be the first time US troops are working openly on the ground in Syria.
But there have been US special forces raids on IS militants there.
A senior administration official told the BBC this does not signal a change in US strategy but an “intensification” of the campaign.
“Our role fundamentally and the strategy is to enable local forces but does that put US forces in harm’s way? It does, no question about it,” Defence Secretary Ash Carter later told reporters.
For more than a year, the US and coalition forces have been carrying out air strikes on Islamic State, which controls a large part of northern Syria and parts of neighbouring Iraq.
The US recently abandoned its Syria rebel training effort, opting to provide equipment and arms directly to rebel leaders instead.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest said President Obama wanted to provide additional support for Syrian rebel fighters who’ve been having success on the battlefield.
“There are now moderate opposition forces that are 45 miles (72km) outside Raqqa,” he said. “The president is prepared to intensify the elements that have shown promise.”
He said: “This is an intensification of a strategy he discussed a year ago.”