President Barack Obama has said the US is not putting its troops on the front lines in Syria to fight the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), despite his decision to deploy special operations troops on the ground. Aljazeera reports:
In his first comments since the deployment was announced on Friday, Obama said it was merely an extension of what the US was already doing. “Keep in mind that we have run special ops already and really this is just an extension of what we are continuing to do,” Obama said in an interview on NBC Nightly News on Monday.
“We are not putting US troops on the front lines fighting firefights with ISIL,” Obama said. “I have been consistent throughout that we are not going to be fighting like we did in Iraq with battalions and occupations. That doesn’t solve the problem.” In announcing the measure, the White House said the troops would be on a mission to “train, advise and assist” and would number fewer than 50.
The introduction of US forces on the ground marks a shift after more than a year of limiting the Syria mission to air strikes against ISIL. Before last year, Obama, who has been averse to committing troops to Middle East wars, had ruled out a US presence on the ground in Syria.