US Special Forces. File photo
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DAMASCUS – The U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter said more American troops could “absolutely” be sent into Syria if the United States can find more “capable” local forces to partner with in the fight against the radical group of Islamic State (ISIS).
This comes days after the White House announced that President Obama had authorized the deployment of a small contingent of special operations forces to the war-torn country of Syria.
“If we find additional groups that are willing to fight ISIL (ISIS) and are capable and motivated, we’ll do more. The president has indicated a willingness to do more, I certainly am prepared to recommend he do more, but you need to have capable local forces; that’s the key to sustainable victory,” Carter told ABC News.
President Obama had authorised sending some 50 U.S. Special Forces to northern Syria to work with local armed groups against ISIS extremists.
“What they are doing there is they are enabling local forces, a mixture of Kurds and Syrian Arabs, who want to fight ISIL. So this small, very elite group, is intended to bring to bear all that the United States can bring to bear, in the way of intelligence, air power and so forth, to help these motivated, capable local forces,” Carter said.
“And this is an instance of the whole strategy. We have to beat ISIL. We will beat ISIL. ISIL’s heart is in Syria and Iraq.”
Although the mission of the American special forces in Syria is to be limited to providing military advise to the local forces and to enable them in anti-ISIS operations, Carter did not exclude the possibility of direct involvement by the U.S. forces in the battles.
“We’re sending them into a dangerous situation and it can develop into a combat situation,” he said.
Reporting by: Laila Majdalawi