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Iran Press TV

Obama orders US special forces to 'assist' militants in Syria

Iran Press TV

Fri Oct 30, 2015 6:20PM

The United States is sending Special Operations Forces troops to Syria to 'assist' militants fighting against the government and the Daesh (ISIL) terrorist group, in an apparent breach of President Barack Obama's promise not to put US "boots on the ground' there.

Senior US administration officials said on Friday that there will be some 50 troops deployed in the Middle East region to 'train, advise and assist' so-called vetted militants, the BBC reported.

A top official told the British broadcaster that this does not indicate a change in US strategy but an 'intensification' of the military campaign.

The US Department of Defense has also been "consulting" with the Iraqi government to establish a Special Operations taskforce, with a number of US troops aiming "to further enhance [US] ability to target ISIL leaders and networks" across the Syria border in Iraq, a senior administration official told the Guardian on Friday.

The White House on Friday claimed that Obama was not backtracking on a promise not to put boots on the ground in Syria.

'Our strategy in Syria hasn't changed,' White House spokesman Josh Earnest said. 'These forces do not have a combat mission.'

Meanwhile, Secretary of State John Kerry said that US officials have been discussing deploying Special Forces troops in Syria 'for months.'

'The president has been determined that we are going to increase our efforts against Daesh,' Kerry said on Friday in Vienna, where he held talks with his Russian and Iranian counterparts on the Syrian crisis.

The top US diplomat insisted that the timing of the news was just a 'coincidence.'

Senior national security advisers to Obama have recommended measures that would put a number of Special Operations forces on the ground in Syria and expand military involvement in Iraq), The Washington Post reported on Tuesday.

The debate over the proposed options reflects growing White House frustration with the failing campaign against Daesh (ISIL).

The new changes, which would position American "advisers" closer to combat in Iraq, also come as Defense Secretary Ashton Carter presses the military leaders to deliver new measures for greater military involvement in long-running conflicts overseas.

The recommendations have been put forward at the request of Obama and his national security team who are concerned that the battle in Iraq and Syria has reached a deadlock and is in need of new ideas.

The new measures were generated by field commanders and thoroughly examined by Obama's senior advisers, including Carter and Secretary of State John Kerry, in a series of meetings over the past few weeks, according to the Post.

The president's top advisers have reportedly not endorsed costly and ambitious options such as imposing no-fly zones or buffer zones that would require tens of thousands of ground troops to be effectively implemented.

The newly proposed Special Operations forces in Syria would reportedly work in tandem with US-backed militants and Kurdish fighters, supported by American air power, to mount an offensive on northeastern city of Raqqa, the de-facto capital of Daesh.

Syria has been gripped by foreign-backed militancy since March 2011. The crisis has claimed the lives of more than 250,000 people so far and displaced millions of others.

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