The White House announced that U.S. Special Forces will be sent to help with operations in Syria Friday morning. Almost at the same time, Vladimir Putin said Russia is making progress in their bombing campaign against ISIS.
A reluctant President Obama has authorized the first sustained deployment of U.S. Special Forces to Syria, officials said Friday, which goes against his campaign promises not to put boots on the ground. According to the AFP, the first deployment to Syria would be composed of “fewer than 50” Special Operation forces to the north of the war-torn country. Administration officials described the operation as an intensified effort to combat the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL).
“They will help coordinate local ground forces and coalition efforts to counter ISIL,” said a senior administration official.
In a related report by the Inquisitr, earlier this month, U.S. Special Forces working alongside Kurdish forces raided an ISIS prison in Iraq in what was described as a daring pre-dawn operation and extracted 70 prisoners. However, they lost Master Sergeant Joshua Wheeler, who was killed during the operation.
The first contingent of U.S. Special Forces will “advise and assist” Kurdish guerrillas and other groups fighting the ruthless Islamic State, the Telegraph reports. They will work with the Syrian Arab Coalition along the Syrian border, which will include helping to coordinate air strikes.
It is not expected these troops will engage in fighting on the frontlines but will instead provide “training, assistance, and advice” in a similar way to what the U.S. is doing in Iraq. In following Obama’s previous stance on putting boots on the ground, a U.S. official said there is “no intention of engaging in long-term, large-scale combat operations” in Syria.
Conveniently, Russian President Vladimir Putin had his own announcement about his country’s operations against ISIS in Syria. According to Sputnik News, since the campaign against ISIS in Syria started on September 30, Russian Aerospace Forces have carried out 1,391 sorties and destroyed a total of 1,623 terrorist targets, the Russian General Staff said Friday.
Russian warplanes destroyed 249 Islamic State command posts, 51 training camps, and 131 depots, Andrey Kartapolov, head of the Russian General Staff Main Operations Directorate, claimed Friday.
“It is too early to speak about complete victory over terrorists in Syria. Despite heavy losses and mass desertion, militants continue to resist the government troops. Importantly, the Syrian armed forces have promptly repelled all of their counterattacks.”
On Friday, Press Secretary Josh Earnest was questioned during the White House briefing and made remarks on the number of U.S. Special Forces deployed.
“I wouldn’t underestimate U.S. Special Forces and the President expects they will have an effect in the campaign of building the capacity of the Iraqi forces on the ground.
“Syria is different because there is no central govt to partner with. The U.S. is enhancing the capacity of modern opposition forces in Syria and carrying out military airstrikes in support of those forces to make progress against ISIL.”
Earlier on Friday, the Associated Press reported a senior Russian diplomat has warned the U.S. against sending Special Forces to Syria. Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Friday, according to Russian news agencies, that Moscow considers the use of U.S. forces without coordination with Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government unacceptable.
Despite the escalation of Russian involvement in Syria, the Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, told CNN Thursday in an exclusive interview that he believes Vladimir Putin is “winging this” and described the Russian leader as “very impulsive and opportunistic.”
“I personally question whether he has some long-term strategy or whether he is being very opportunistic on a day-to-day basis and I think his intervention into Syria is another manifestation of that.
“What his long-term plan is, I’m not sure he has one. I think he is kind of winging this day-to-day.”
Earnest defended the president’s decision to send U.S. Special Forces when questioned whether Obama had broken his promise not to put boots on the ground, insisting these troops will not be in the frontlines. One of the goals of this mission is to aid Iraqi in the push to reclaim Ramadi, which has fallen into ISIS’ hands.
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