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Thursday, February 16, 2017

Defense Department could propose ground forces in Syria

The Defense Department could propose that the United States send conventional ground combat forces into northern Syria for the first time in order to speed up the fight against the Islamic State (ISIS), CNN reported on Wednesday.

"It's possible that you may see conventional forces hit the ground in Syria for some period of time," one defense official told the network.

The official emphasized, however, that any decision is ultimately up to President Donald Trump, who has ordered his Defense Secretary to come up with a proposal to combat ISIS before the end of the month.

The move would significantly alter U.S. military operations in Syria if approved and could put troops on the ground within weeks.

Until now, only small teams made up largely of Special Operations forces have operated in Syria, providing training and assistance to anti-ISIS opposition groups on the ground.

Conventional units operate in larger numbers and would require a more significant footprint of security protection both on the ground and in the air.

The exact mission of ground troops is not yet clear, but one goal of their presence would be to help reassure Turkey that Kurdish forces are not posing a threat to its interests, according to CNN. It is possible some troops would deploy first to Kuwait and then move into Syria, the network said. READ MORE