WASHINGTON DC: US President Barack Obama celebrated Christmas by singing carols and opening gifts with…
Hanover , PTI: President Barack Obama on Monday said the US would send up to 250 more special forces military trainers to Syria to help rebels fight Islamic State group jihadists.
Obama was in Germany for talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel, and both were to be joined later by the leaders of Britain, France and Italy in a meeting expected to focus on the fight against the IS in Syria and Iraq.
In a speech on transatlantic unity, Obama hailed NATO partners’ progress so far in pushing back IS, which he called “the most urgent threat to our nations”.
“A small number of American special operations forces are already on the ground in Syria and their expertise has been critical as local forces have driven ISIL out of key areas,” he said, using an alternative acronym for the militant group.
“So, given the success, I have approved the deployment of up to 250 additional US personnel in Syria, including special forces, to keep up this momentum,” added Obama, speaking in the northern city of Hanover.
“They’re not going to be leading the fight on the ground, but they will be essential in providing the training, in assisting local forces as they continue to drive ISIL back.” Yesterday Obama had pressed for all parties to the Syrian conflict, including the regime’s ally Russia, to return to the negotiating table and “reinstate” an internationally-brokered ceasefire.
“I spoke to President Vladimir Putin early last week to try to make sure that we could reinstate the cessation of hostilities,” Obama said. That was the clearest indication yet that the White House believes the ceasefire has all but disintegrated, as regime and rebel bombardments claimed 26 lives yesterday.
Eight weeks into the declared truce between President Bashar al-Assad’s regime and non-jihadist rebels, violence has escalated around Aleppo, with dozens killed by government air strikes and rebel rockets.