US president Barack Obama has announced the deployment of an extra 250 US special operations forces to Syria to assist troops trying to dislodge IS extremists from the war-torn country.
The US president, hailing recent gains against the group, said the added troops would help “to keep up this momentum” against IS.
The move will significantly broaden the American presence in Syria, bringing the number of personnel to roughly 300, up from about 50 special operations forces currently there.
Mr Obama revealed his decision a week after Defence Secretary Ash Carter announced that more than 200 US troops will soon be headed to Iraq, where local forces are also battling IS militants who control areas of that country.
He said the newest insertion of US forces will not be in combat roles.
“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”, Mr Obama said during a speech in Hanover, Germany, that capped a week-long trip that also took him to Saudi Arabia and Britain.
Mr Obama said in a meeting later with the leaders of Britain, Germany, France and Italy, he would ask those countries to step up their contribution to the air campaign and to the training of local forces.
He also said he would be seeking more economic aid to rebuild parts of Iraq the US-led coalition has recaptured from IS.
“Europe and Nato can still do more,” he said. “We need to do everything in our power to stop them.”
Mr Obama discussed his troop decision briefly during a broader speech on US-European relations and the importance to the world of continued European unity.
He urged Europe’s leaders to pay attention to income inequality, which he said creates wedges among populations, and other issues including education for young people and equal pay for equal work for women.
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