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US considers expansion of military intervention in Syria

A convoy of US forces armored vehicles drives near the village of Yalanli, on the western outskirts of the northern Syrian city of Manbij, on March 5, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

The US military involvement in Syria is likely to expand further under the administration of Donald Trump, who is reviewing plans for more ground troops and greater firepower in an unauthorized bid to recapture the Daesh (ISIL) stronghold of Raqqah in the country’s northeast.

The evolving strategy comes amid ongoing discussions within the Trump administration on ending strict limits on the number of American boots on the ground set by former president Barack Obama, who had also expanded the presence of US forces in Syria by hundreds of more troops, according to a report by the Associated Press.

The new approach, the report says, would grant commanders more flexibility in deciding how many more troops they need on the ground along with greater firepower.

Officials have said the Pentagon is planning to deploy 1,000 more troops to Syria in addition to between 800 and 900 Special Operations forces already in the Arab country.

Damascus views American troops slipping into Syria without its consent as “invaders.”

The US military has so far spent over $11.5 billion on its intervention in Syria – including the training and advising of local militants and foreign mercenaries -- aimed at overthrowing the government of President Bashar al-Assad in alliance with Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar, Jordan, the UAE and the Israeli regime.

US President Donald Trump greets Secretary of Defense James Mattis (R) as he walks to board Air Force One prior to departing from Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland, March 2, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

Washington has said the task of US forces in Syria is to recruit and organize anti-government militants willing to battle rival Daesh terrorists in northern Syria. 

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Although US troops are not currently leading the fight on the ground, they are involved in an increasing number of ways, AP said.

For instance, the Marine artillery is a recent addition, and about two weeks ago a few dozen Army Rangers began acting as a "deterrence and reassurance" force on the outskirts of the city of Manbij.

The Rangers are displaying the US flag in hopes of dissuading Turkish, Russian, Syrian and US-backed opposition forces from fighting each other, according to the report.

The US military also insists that it will continue to conduct airstrikes on Daesh positions from bases in Jordan, Turkey and elsewhere in the region.

Since March 2011, the US 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 hundreds of thousands of Syrians dead and half of the country’s population of about 23 million displaced within or beyond its borders.

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