US could deploy more troops to Syria: Pentagon chief
Iran Press TV
Sun Nov 8, 2015 9:14PM
US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter has called on President Barack Obama to do more on Syria, saying the United States could send more troops to the Arab country.
Carter made the remarks this week during an ABC News interview aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt in the South China Sea, days after Obama ordered the deployment of dozens of Special Operations Forces (SOF) to Syria. Carter's interview was broadcast on Sunday.
The Pentagon chief said more US troops could 'absolutely' be deployed if Washington can find more 'capable' local forces as partners in the fight against the Daesh (ISIL) terrorist group.
'In order to have victory stick, you have to have local forces involved who can keep the peace after you've helped them win the peace,' Carter said. 'Now those are hard to find in Iraq and Syria."
'If we find additional groups that are willing to fight ISIL and are capable and motivated, we'll do more. The president has indicated a willingness to do more, I certainly am prepared to recommend he do more, but you need to have capable local forces -- that's the key to sustainable victory,' he said.
On October 30, senior Obama administration officials said that Washington would send some 50 SOF troops to Syria to 'train, advise and assist' militants fighting against the Daesh, in an apparent breach of Obama's promise not to put US "boots on the ground' there.
A top official told the BBC that this does not indicate a change in US strategy, but an 'intensification' of the military campaign.
'What they are doing there is they are enabling local forces, a mixture of Kurds and Syrian Arabs, who want to fight ISIL. So this small, very elite group, is intended to bring to bear all that the United States can bring to bear, in the way of intelligence, air power and so forth, to help these motivated, capable local forces,' Carter told ABC News.
'And this is an instance of the whole strategy. We have to beat ISIL. We will beat ISIL. ISIL's heart is in Syria and Iraq.'
The US is escalating its involvement in Syria amid Russia's intensifying campaign in the country to assist President Bashar al-Assad in fighting against ISIL terrorists. The US forces will remain in Syria for the foreseeable future.
On September 30, Russia began its military campaign against Daesh terrorists and militants fighting against the Syrian government. Moscow has carried out scores of airstrikes, killing hundreds of terrorists.
US officials have told The Associated Press that Russia has directed parts of its military campaign against US-backed militants and other extremist groups in an effort to weaken them.
They say the CIA-trained militants are under Russian strikes with little prospect of rescue by their American supporters.
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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