On Wednesday, CNN reported that officials within the Defense Department informed them that the Pentagon is considering the idea of putting U.S. troops on the ground in Syria. If done, it would be the first time the United States would put boots on the ground to accelerate the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
“It’s possible that you may see conventional forces hit the ground in Syria for some period of time,” one defense official said, according to CNN.
The fight in Syria until now has consisted only of small teams of Special Operations forces entering the country to help assist anti-ISIS groups. Putting a larger number of U.S. troops on the ground to fight against the Islamic State would require a much larger security presence on the ground and in the air. Officials told CNN that if the Pentagon moves forth with such a plan, U.S. troops could be on the ground within weeks.
The final decision would ultimately be up to the Commander-in-Chief, President Donald Trump, who is looking to Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis for proposals on how to combat the terror group most efficiently. If President Trump decides to follow through with such a plan, it would be a large departure from the Obama administration’s position on the issue.
The Obama administration refrained from putting troops on the ground in Syria, despite former President Obama declaring a “red line” that if Syrian President Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons against his own people during the years-long civil war, the United States would be forced to take military action. The Wall Street Journal’s Jay Solomon reported that President Obama failed to follow through with his “red line” because he did not want to threaten a conflict with Iran, Syria’s closest Arab ally, in an effort to complete the Iran nuclear agreement.