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Obama deploying 250 special operations forces to Syria in Islamic State fight

By Andrew V. Pestano
Obama deploying 250 special operations forces to Syria in Islamic State fight
U.S. special operations forces will increase in Syria to up to 300, up from about 50, in attempts to support local rebel groups in their fight against the Islamic State. U.S. President Barack Obama made the announcement on Monday during a trip to Germany. Pool Photo by Michael Reynolds/UPI | License Photo

HANNOVER, Germany, April 25 (UPI) -- President Barack Obama on Monday announced that 250 additional special operations forces will be deployed to Syria to help rebels combat the Islamic State.

There will now be up to 300 U.S. special forces in Syria working with a network of Arab rebel groups, mostly made up of Kurdish militants, that are fighting against Islamic State, also known as Daesh, ISIS and ISIL. American special forces will not be leading combat efforts on the ground, but will help train and support rebels.

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"Just as I approved additional support for Iraqi forces against ISIL I've decided to increase U.S. support for local forces fighting ISIL in Syria, a small number of 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," Obama said Monday while in Hannover, Germany. "So given their success I've approved the deployment of up to 250 additional US personnel in Syria including special forces to keep up this momentum."

Recent hostilities in Syria have threatened a cease-fire established in February between the regime of President Bashar al-Assad and a consolidated group of rebel forces.

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Obama's special forces revelation follows a Department of Defense announcement last week that said the United States will increase troop numbers in Iraq, deploy AH-64 Apache helicopters and help fund Kurdish Peshmerga forces with up to $415 million as the battle against the Islamic State continues in two fronts.

"So make no mistake these terrorists will learn the same lesson as others before them have, which is 'your hatred is no match for our nations united in the defense of our way of life,'" Obama said.

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