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Will Trump Put Troops In Syria To Deliver On Defeating ISIS?

  • Calvin Wolf
  • Feb 16, 2017 12:59PM

The Pentagon may recommend the use of regular American ground troops in war-torn Syria, reports CNN. Ultimately, the decision to advance the fight against ISIS will rest with President Donald Trump, who made the total destruction of the Middle Eastern terrorist organization a key pillar of his 2016 presidential campaign. Thus far, U.S. involvement in Syria has been limited to airstrikes and covert special forces operations, consciously avoiding substantial “boots on the ground” that could result in televised American casualties.

Since 2011, the Syrian Civil War has captivated the attention of the world for its brutality, complexity, and geopolitical importance in the Global War on Terror. Multiple rebel groups have fought against the authoritarian regime of Bashar al-Assad, prompting indiscriminate retaliatory strikes against civilian areas.  Some of these rebel groups have been identified as “moderate” and suitable recipients of aid from the West, while others have been criticized as radical Islamists. 

In recent years, the civil war in Syria has coalesced into a grim battle between the Russian-backed government forces of President al-Assad and the shadowy, nefarious irregulars of ISIS. The big problem for Washington? Both ISIS and Assad are reviled enemies of America, meaning there’s nobody to root for in this bloody conflict. Attacking ISIS directly may help Assad regain control of his rural territories, and attacking Assad may help ISIS retake ground it has recently lost. Previous U.S. strategies of aiding “moderate” rebels have been criticized as ineffectual and giving dangerous weapons to inexperienced fighters who might quickly lose them to either ISIS or Assad…or defect to either side willingly.

America’s waffling on a Syria strategy has angered both Democrats and Republicans since 2013, when then-president Barack Obama insinuated that we would respond militarily to any use of chemical weapons in Syria. When evidence revealed that al-Assad’s forces had indeed used sarin gas against civilians, Obama failed to use the force he had threatened. Ignoring Assad’s breach of the “redline” prompted calls that the president was soft on defense and terrorism.