President Barack Obama on Monday announced plans to send up to 250 more troops to Syria to allegedly aid in the fight against the Islamic State (ISIS), just a day after he made emphatic statements against using ground troops to deal with the crisis there.
The deployment will increase the U.S. troop count in Syria to 300. Obama made the announcement during a visit to Hanover, Germany, stating that the decision comes in response to Syrian fighters recently gaining back territory from the militant group.
"Given the success, I've approved the deployment of up to 250 additional personnel in Syria, including special forces to keep up this momentum," he said.
The Wall Street Journal reports:
A major focus of the additional American personnel will be trying to get more Sunni Arabs to join the fight alongside Kurdish units in northeastern Syria. U.S. officials say they believe they will need a larger Sunni Arab force to help clear and hold Arab-dominated communities in and around Raqqa, the Islamic State stronghold, as an eventual assault begins there against Islamic State and members of the militant group are pushed out of those areas.
Last week, Obama also announced he would send 217 troops to Iraq to aid in the fight against ISIS.
The announcement garnered instant criticism from opponents of the so-called war on terror. Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist Seymour Hersh told Democracy Now! on Monday that he was "horrified" by the news.
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"We are truly a very much hated country in the Middle East," he said in an interview with host Amy Goodman. "And it's partly because of the way we fight our wars, with drone attacks, and a lot of force...a lot of killing goes on by us."
"It's a little amazing, at this stage, he's putting more forces in," he said. "But that's his prerogative. Always makes good news. Nobody seems in this country ever to object too much when we put more people on the ground."
In an interview with BBC just a day earlier, Obama said, "It would be a mistake for the United States, or Great Britain...to send in ground troops and overthrow the Assad regime."
"In order for us to solve the long-term problems in Syria, a military solution alone—and certainly us deploying ground troops—is not going to bring that about," he said.
At least 250,000 people have died since the fighting in Syria began in 2011.