Mon | Sep 25, 2017

Obama says new US troops in Syria will be essential

Published:Tuesday | April 26, 2016 | 4:00 AM
US President Barack Obama, left, talks to John B. Emerson, US ambassador to Germany, right, and Stephan Weil, governor of German state of Lower Saxony, centre, upon his arrival at the airport in Hannover, northern Germany, on the weekend.

HANNOVER (AP):

President Barack Obama yesterday announced the deployment of up to 250 US military personnel to Syria, mostly special operations forces, to assist local troops trying to dislodge Islamic State extremists. He called the move essential to keeping up momentum against the group.

The deployment will bring the number of personnel to roughly 300, up from about 50 special operations forces currently in Syria.

Obama revealed his decision a week after Defence Secretary Ash Carter announced that more than 200 US troops soon will be headed to Iraq, where local forces are also battling Islamic State militants who control areas of that country. He said none of the new forces heading to Syria would participate in direct combat.

"They're not going to be leading the fight on the ground, but they will be essential in providing the training and assisting local forces," Obama said during a speech in Germany that capped a week long trip that also took him to Saudi Arabia and Great Britain.

IS was a focus of private talks with his counterparts in all three stops.