President Obama announced Monday that he is deploying an additional 250 U.S. troops to Syria to fight the Islamic State terrorist group.
Citing recent gains against the militants, Mr. Obama said the new troops will help “to keep up the momentum.” They will join about 50 special operations forces that the U.S. has already sent to Syria.
“They’re not going to be leading the fight on the ground, but they will be essential in providing the training and assisting local forces,” Mr. Obama said during a speech in Hannover, Germany, where he is visiting an international trade show.
The announcement came just days after Defense Secretary Ashton Carter revealed that more than another 200 U.S. troops will be deployed soon to Iraq, where a U.S.-led coalition also is fighting Islamic State militants who control areas of that country. The extremist group is also known by the acronyms ISIL and ISIS.
“Just as I approved additional support for Iraqi forces against ISIL, I’ve decided to increase U.S. support for local forces fighting ISIL in Syria,” Mr. Obama said. “A small number of special operations forces are already on the ground in Syria and their expertise has been critical as local forces have driven ISIL out of key areas. So given their success, I’ve approved the deployment of up to 250 additional U.S. personnel in Syria including special forces to keep up this momentum.”
Syria is in the midst of a 4-year-long civil war, with Russian forces supporting the regime of President Bashar Assad. The administration says a political settlement that ousts Mr. Assad from power is the key to eliminating the Islamic State from its base in Syria.
Earlier this week, during a visit to Saudi Arabia, Mr. Obama sounded a pessimistic note about solutions for the Syrian crisis.
“None of the options are good,” he said. “It has been my view consistently that we have to get a political solution inside of Syria and that all the external actors involved have to be committed to that as well as the actors inside of Syria. … The sooner we can end fighting and resolve this in a political fashion, the better.”