More US troops possible in Syria, says US defense chief

November 09, 2015 10:33
US Defense Secretary Ash Carter (right) speaks with US Navy Cmdr. Robert C. Francis Jr. aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier in the South China Sea last week. The destroyer USS Lassen is pictured in the background. Photo: Reuters

US defense secretary Ash Carter said more American troops could "absolutely" be sent into Syria if the United States can find more "capable" local forces to partner with in the fight against the Islamic States.

"If we find additional groups that are willing to fight [Islamic State] and are capable and motivated, we'll do more," Carter told ABC News.

"The president has indicated a willingness to do more, I certainly am prepared to recommend he do more, but you need to have capable local forces; that's the key to sustainable victory."

US President Barack Obama has authorized the deployment of a small contingent of special operations forces to the war-torn country, a turnabout from his earlier statements that he would not commit American troops on the ground there.

"What they are doing there is they are enabling local forces, a mixture of Kurds and Syrian Arabs, who want to fight [Islamic State]," Carter told the television news network aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt in the South China Sea last week.

"So this small, very elite group is intended to bring to bear all that the United States can bring to bear, in the way of intelligence, air power and so forth, to help these motivated, capable local forces," he said.

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