US escalates involvement in Syria amid talks on Assad future

Published: Saturday 31st October 2015 by The News Editor

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The United States escalated its fight against the Islamic State in Syria, pledging the first open deployment of military boots on the ground.

The move came as US, Russian and other diplomats began a new peace effort that America hopes will hasten the departure of Bashar Assad.

Up to 50 special operations troops will be sent to assist Kurdish and Arab forces in northern Syria, American officials said.

The move marks a significant departure for President Barack Obama, who for years has resisted putting ground forces in Syria.

However he has gradually intensified the US military response to what counter-terrorism officials worry is a growing Islamic State threat in Syria and Iraq.

The troop announcement came as diplomats in Vienna representing 17 countries and the EU agreed to launch a new peace attempt to gradually end Syria’s long civil war.

The declaration avoided any decision on when Assad might leave, and its is not clear how many rebel groups would agree to a plan that does not result in his immediate departure.

Any ceasefire agreement that may come as a result of the peace effort would not include the Islamic State, which controls large parts of northern Syria and has its capital there.

But the participation by Russia and Iran in the attempt could mark a new and promising phase in the diplomacy since those countries have staunchly backed Assad.

Published: Saturday 31st October 2015 by The News Editor

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