US to base special forces in Syria for first time

potd-helmet_3005721bPresident Obama orders the first permanent deployment of US troops in Syria, where they will advise Kurdish forces President Barack Obama has decided to send dozens of special forces soldiers to Syria, beginning the first sustained deployment of US ground forces in the country.
They will be sent to northern Syria where will they will “advise and assist” Kurdish guerrillas and other groups fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil).
US special forces have carried out raids in Syria, but this will be their first permanent presence inside the country.
It marks a significant escalation which the White House said was “consistent with the strategy to intensify battle against Isil”.
The special forces will work with the Syrian Arab Coalition along the Syrian border, including helping to co-ordinate air strikes.
They are not expected to be fighting on the frontlines and will provide “training, assistance and advice” in the same way US troops are already doing to anti-Isil forces in Iraq.
Outlining what the role of US special forces in Syria would be John Earnest, the White House spokesman, said: “It will not be their responsibility to lead the charge up the hill.
“Will they be in the vicinity offering advice and assistance? I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s the case.”
Mr Earnest added: “They are not being deployed with a combat mission. They will have the equipment they need if necessary. They will be able to defend themselves.”A US official said there was “no intention of engaging in long-term, large-scale combat operations” in Syria.
Last week saw the first death of an American serviceman in action in Iraq since 2011.
Master Sergeant Joshua Wheeler died in a firefight as US special operations soldiers and Kurdish forces freed 70 hostages from an Isil prison near Hawija.
The number of special forces being deployed in Syria will be “fewer than 50” according to a US official.
The first stationing of US “boots on the ground” in Syria marks a significant change of direction for Mr Obama, who had repeatedly said in the past he would not put combat troops in the country.
The US will also deploy A-10 ground-attack planes and F-15 tactical fighter jets to the Incirlik base in southern Turkey, and will discuss with Iraq the establishment of a special forces task force there.
Mr Obama has also decided to increase military aid to Jordan and Lebanon to tackle Isil.
Mac Thornberry, the Republican chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said the special forces deployment to Syria was “long overdue”.
But he added: “I do not see a strategy for success. Rather, it seems the administration is trying to avoid a disaster while the president runs out the clock.”
The number of special forces being deployed in Syria will be “fewer than 50” according to a US official.
James Clapper, the US Director of National Intelligence, told CNN he did not believe Vladimir Putin had a long-term plan for Russian involvement in Syria, adding: “He is kind of winging this day to day.”
Key moments in Syria’s civil war
March 2011
Syrian government cracks down on protests

Demonstrators protesting against President Bashar al-Assad march through Homs after Friday’s prayers (October 2011)
The opening shots of Syria’s civil war are fired when Syrian government forces repress mostly peaceful demonstrations in cities across Syria with gunfire, beatings and arrests.
October 2012
Turkey fires on its neighbour
Syrian and Turkish forces exchange mortar fire as tension rise between the two neighbours following the shooting down of a Turkish plane in June. Turkey seizes a Syrian plane allegedly carrying arms from Russia.
August 2013
Chemical weapons used

A suspect chemical weapons facility in al-Safirah, Syria
Assad regime uses chemical weapons at Ghouta, near Damascus crossing a “red line” set by Barack Obama, but western powers step back from punitive air-strikes after it becomes clear there is a lack of domestic political will.
September 2013
Arming Syrian rebels
US begins delivery of light weapons to Syria, according to US media reports, but rebels soon complain contribution is insufficient, with some shipments so small Syrian rebel commander had to ration ammunition.
October 2013
Attempts to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons
International inspectors begin destroying Syria’s chemical weapons stock under a face-saving deal brokered by Russia and the US.
April 2014
US supplies rebels
Local commanders report that the US has supplied them with a small number of wire-guided TOW anti-tank missiles
June 2014
Isil emerges
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) declares “caliphate” in territory from Aleppo to eastern Iraqi province of Diyala
September 2014
US-led coalition starts strikes against Isil
After major Isil advances threaten Baghdad and Kurdish-controlled areas of Iraq, a US-led coalition begins limited air-strikes against Isil targets
March 2015
Jaish al-Fatah: the new Islamist rebel alliance

Al-Nusra Front fighters heading towards their positions during an offensive to take control of Ariha, Idlib (Photo: Ammar Abdullah/Reuters)
The proxy war intensifies as Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar step up backing for a new Islamist rebel alliance, Jaish al-Fatah (Army of Conquest) which makes swift advances, capturing provincial capital of Idlib.
July 2015
US-trained fighters attacked in Syria
The first contingent of 60 US-trained Free Syrian Army fighters crosses border from Jordan into Syria. They are soon depleted by kidnappings and attacks from the rebel Islamist group, Nusra Front, reportedly agreeing not to attack the al-Qaeda affiliate.
September 2015
Russia comes to Assad’s aid
With President Assad looking in imminent danger of being overthrown, Russia begins air strikes to rescue his regime. The Kremlin claims to be targeting Isil, but about 85 per cent of all air raids are directed against other rebel movements.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *