President Barack Obama is preparing to ship 250 more U.S. servicemembers to Syria, joining the existing 50 already in the region, in an effort to bring the fight to the Islamic State’s doorstep.
The vast majority of the 250 troops, like the 50 previously sent for a “counterterrorism” mission, are in special forces, specifically the Army Green Berets. This time around, some troops focusing on logistics issues and serving as medics will also be present, and the exact ratio of support personnel to special operators is unclear, the Associated Press reports.
Obama will justify his decision Monday in a speech in Hanover, Germany.
Just last week, Obama gave a non-answer to a question while in Riyadh on whether he was willing to send more special forces to Syria.
“None of the options are good,” Obama said, according to AP. “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.”
While Obama still disagrees with major military intervention either in Iraq or Syria, it seems he doesn’t have the same hesitations about the use of special operators.
The new shipment of troops come just a week after Secretary of Defense Ash Carter announced the administration was sending 217 more troops to Iraq to serve in an advisory and training role. And although Iraq has pushed back against this particular shipment, Carter also announced the U.S. would be sending Apache attack helicopters, as well. With the addition of 217, the total number of U.S. troops in Iraq will amount to just over 4,000. It is likely the Apaches will see combat action in the attempt to take back Mosul, a major ISIS stronghold in Iraq, which the terror group has held since mid-2014.
Although Obama has long promised to drawdown wars in the Middle East, he has either kept troops in Afghanistan, Syria, or Iraq, or simply added more.
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