US President Barack Obama has said that troops from the United States Special Operations Forces (SOF) in Syria will not be engaged in fights against Daesh (ISIL) terrorists in the war-torn country.
“We are not putting US troops on the front lines fighting firefights with ISIL,” Obama said in an interview on “NBC Nightly News” on Monday.
“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,” he stated.
On Friday, senior US administration officials said that Washington would send some 50 SOF troops to Syria to “train, advise and assist” militants fighting against the Daesh.
A top official told the BBC that this does not indicate a change in US strategy, but an “intensification” of the military campaign.
Although the move came in an apparent breach of Obama’s promise not to put US “boots on the ground” there, the US president rejected the notion as untrue.
“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.
The US is escalating its involvement in Syria amid Russia’s intensifying campaign in the country to assist President Bashar al-Assad in fighting against the ISIL.
The US forces will remain in Syria for the foreseeable future and the White House has no plan to send more if they are successful in helping make gains on Daesh-held territory.
Syria has been gripped by foreign-backed militancy since March 2011. The crisis has claimed the lives of more than 250,000 people so far and displaced millions of others.