Washington: President Barack Obama has authorised deployment of less than 50 special operations forces in northern Syria to counter the IS, a senior official here said on Friday, expanding the US' involvement in the fight against the dreaded group from the air to the ground
Obama has also authorised deploying A-10s and F-15s at a base in Turkey in support of his strategy against the terrorist outfit which has gained control over a large parts of Syria.
"The President has authorised a small complement--fewer than 50--of US Special Operations Forces (SOF) to deploy to northern Syria, where they will help coordinate local ground forces and Coalition efforts to counter ISIL," senior administration official told PTI when asked about news reports appearing in the US media in this regard.
Requesting anonymity, as the decision has not been officially announced yet, the official said the President has also authorised a number of additional steps, including deploying A-10s and F-15s to Incirlik airbase in Turkey.
"It also includes consulting with Prime Minister Abadi (Haider Jawad) and the Iraqi government on the establishment of a Special Operations Force (SOF) task force to further enhance our ability to target ISIL leaders and networks; and enhancing our counter-ISIL military assistance to Jordan and Lebanon," the official said.
"Let me re-affirm that our core objective of degrading and destroying ISIL has not changed. We have always been clear that this would be a multi-year campaign, and that continues to be the case. ISIL is a determined enemy," the official said.
"And we will not defeat ISIL by military means alone. That's why we will continue to lead a 65-partner Coalition that is working to halt the flow of foreign fighters, constrict ISIL's finances, stabilise liberated communities and counter ISIL's messaging," the official asserted.
According to the official, at Obama's direction, the administration has been looking at ways to intensify its counter-ISIL campaign.
"In that effort, we have been focused on intensifying elements of our strategy that have been working, while also moving away from elements of our approach that have proven less effective," he said.
"Specifically, we have made good progress in both Iraq and Syria when we have worked closely with effective partners on the ground who have proven capable of reclaiming territory from ISIL and going on offense," the official said.