US to deploy special forces to Syria

US to send dozens of special forces troops to Syria to support local opposition forces but White House rejects claims that troops will take on combat missions

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

White House spokesman, Josh Earnest arrives for a media briefing in Washington October 30, 2015

Updated Oct 31, 2015

The United States will send dozens of special operation troops to northern Syria to advise, assist and train opposition forces in their fight against DAESH, the White House said on Friday.

White House says deployment of special forces to Syria to fight DAESH, should not be seen as a major change in policy, but rather as an "intensification" of the current policy, devised to support local opposition forces.

The White House Press Secretary, Josh Earnest repeatedly rejected claims that the American troops will be involved in combat missions, but admitted that those sent to Syria will face significant risks.

“If we were envisioning a combat operation, we probably would be contemplating more than 50 troops on the ground,” he said, adding, “This is a dangerous place on the globe and they are at risk, and there's no denying that.”

The news came as US Secretary of State, John Kerry was at a meeting in Vienna, where world powers gathered to find a political solution for the war in Syria, which has been ongoing for four-and-a-half years. A second round of talks is set to take place in two weeks.

The talks included the foreign ministers of Russia and Iran, who are allies of the Syrian regime leader, Bashar al Assad and nations such as Saudi Arabia and Turkey, who are opposed to him remaining in power, due to the civil war that has forced millions to flee the country as refugees.

The policy shift comes as Syria’s ally Russia began a military intervention in the country last month, which it says is devoted to combating DAESH. But the US and others believe Moscow has also targeted forces opposed to Assad’s government, including groups supported by Washington.

TRTWorld and agencies