President Barack Obama announced on April 24, 2016, in a speech in Hannover, Germany, that he will send 250 more Special Forces personnel to Syria to aid in the conflict against the Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL).
“They’re not going to be leading the fight on the ground,” Obama said, “but they will be essential in providing the training and assisting local forces that continue to drive ISIL back.”
This will bring the total of U.S. forces in Syria to about 300. He further called on NATO allies to step up the fight to destroy ISIS.
In Syria, ISIS is warring to overthrow longtime dictator Bashar al-Assad, which has created a complex situation, as al-Assad’s overthrow is also an aim of the United States. The U.S. supports extremist groups like Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) and the Muslim Brotherhood in their battle against al-Assad, as revealed by leaked Pentagon reports, but does not support ISIS.
The Syrian Civil War, between the dictator and many rebel groups, has killed 250,000 people and displaced 11 million people. The war has seen many tragic developments, such as bitter conflict in the U.S. over whether to allow immigration of refugees, ISIS genocide against Shia Muslims and to a lesser extent Yazidis and Christians, the starving of Syrian towns by both ISIS and U.S.-backed fighters, and the ISIS terror attack in Paris — revenge for France’s involvement in the war.
In Iraq, nearly 4,100 troops remain, mostly involved in training and defense in the Iraqi government’s battle against ISIS. In the last few years, the number has been increasing a few hundred at a time. A week ago, on Monday, April 18, the Pentagon announced an increase in Iraq of over 200 U.S. troops.