Obama announces 250 special operations forces to Syria

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
US President Barack Obama on Monday authorized the deployment of 250 additional US troops to Syria. (Reuters file photo)

US President Barack Obama has announced the biggest expansion of American ground troops in Syria since 2011, under the pretext of fighting against terrorism, despite previously ruling out sending more forces to the Arab nation.

Speaking in Hannover, Germany, on Monday, Obama announced an additional 250 US Special Operations Forces (SOF) troops will be sent to the war-torn country in the coming weeks.  

"Just as I approved additional support for Iraqi forces against ISIL, I've decided to increase US support for local forces fighting ISIL in Syria, a small number of special operations forces are already on the ground in Syria and their expertise has been critical as local forces have driven ISIL out of key areas," Obama said.

The US president was referring to Daesh terrorists, who were initially trained by the CIA in Jordan in 2012 to destabilize the Syrian government. They now control large parts of Iraq and Syria.

The United States has already deployed dozens of special forces to eastern Syria in what it claims is an effort to shore up local militant groups against Daesh. The new deployment would bring to 300 the total number of American troops in Syria.

US President Barack Obama speaks in Hanover, Germany, April 25, 2016.  (AFP photo)

"So given their success I've approved the deployment of up to 250 additional U.S. personnel in Syria including special forces to keep up this momentum," Obama said.

"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 as they continue to drive ISIL back," he said.

Since March 2011, the United States and its regional allies, in particular Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey, have been conducting a proxy war against Syria.

The years-long conflict has left more than 470,000 Syrians dead and half of the country’s population of about 23 million displaced within or beyond the Arab country’s borders.

"As we have noted in recent days, the President has authorized a series of steps to increase support for our partners in the region, including Iraqi security forces as well as local Syrian forces who are taking the fight to ISIL," a senior US administration official told CNN.  

"The President during his remarks at the Hannover Messe fairgrounds on Monday will speak to this additional step."

In September 2014, the US and some of its allies started conducting airstrikes inside Syria against Daesh terrorists. However, observers say the attacks did little damage to the terrorists; rather, they targeted the country’s infrastructure.

In September of last year, Russia launched its own air offensive against the terrorists who were still wreaking havoc in Syria. The Russian campaign, analysts say, has broken the backbone of ISIL and other militants, and has provided the government of President Bashar al-Assad an opportunity to defeat the foreign-sponsored terrorist onslaught.

A frame grab taken from footage released by Russia's Defense Ministry on December 25, 2015, shows airstrikes carried out by Russia's air force hitting militants' vehicles, which, according to the ministry, carried oil, at an unknown location in Syria. (Reuters photo)

In recent months, the Syrian army, backed by the Russian air power, has been making major gains against Takfiri groups, recapturing several strategic areas from their grip, particularly in the strategic northern province of Aleppo.

A temporary truce agreement engineered by Russia and the United States, which came into force across Syria on February 27, has been holding despite reports of violations by the warring sides.

Obama on Sunday called on the parties involved in the Syrian conflict to "reinstate" the faltering ceasefire.

"I spoke to (Russian) President Vladimir Putin early last week to try to make sure that we could reinstate the cessation of hostilities," Obama told a news conference in Germany.

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