President Barack Obama announced Monday during a speech in Hannover, Germany, that an additional 250 special operations forces will be sent to Syria in the coming weeks to fight the influence of ISIS, according to CNN.
“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, 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 (ISIS) 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.”
— Jon Dougherty (@JonDTWCNews) April 25, 2016
Noting that U.S. troops will not be leading the fight on the ground, Obama said their role will be limited to “training and assisting” local forces.
“So make no mistake these terrorists will learn the same lesson as others before them have, which is ‘your hatred is no match for our nations united in the defense of our way of life.’”
The additional troops will add to the 50 already deployed by Obama, bringing the total number of U.S. troops on the ground to 300, according to BBC News.
Despite the deployment, Obama said the pursuit of diplomatic solutions to end the Syrian conflict that has killed hundreds of thousands remains his priority.
“Just as we remain relentless on the military front we’re not going to give up on diplomacy to end the civil war in Syria because the suffering of the people in Syria has to end and that requires an effective political transition.”
— David Mbewa (@MbewaDavid) April 25, 2016
The goal of the deployment announced by Obama is to “advise and assist” forces in the area and to encourage more Sunni Arabs to join Kurdish fighters in north-east Syria, where ISIS is based.
Earlier, U.S. Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes said progress had been made with some ISIS strongholds in northern and eastern Syria.
“We want to accelerate that progress and we believe the commitment of additional U.S. special forces can play a critical role.”
Obama was reportedly persuaded to take this additional step because of these recent successes against ISIS in northern and eastern Syria.
— USA TODAY (@USATODAY) April 25, 2016
On Sunday in Hannover, Obama said he was “deeply concerned” about a surge of recent violence in Syria, noting that the opposition accused the government of violating a truce negotiated by the U.S. and Russia.
Obama had previously resisted sending U.S. troops into Syria, where a five-year-old civil war has killed more than 250,000 people and displaced some 11 million others.
Of those, four million have fled abroad, with many of the refugees landing in Europe, which has created a deadlock among EU members on the question of refugees and asylum.
— Los Angeles Times (@latimes) April 25, 2016
Germany alone has received close to 477,000 asylum applications last year as almost 1.1 million immigrants arrived, according to BBC News. Another 181,405 asylum applications have been submitted so far this year.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel joined Obama in Hannover on Sunday, where the president is pushing for the TTIP Trade Deal and urged warring factions to set up safe zones in Syria, where refugees could be protected within the country. She sees this as a way to stop the massive exile into Europe.
Obama noted, however, that it would be “very difficult” for safe zones to work without a large military commitment in the region from local forces.
[Photo by AP Images]