More US troops could “absolutely” be deployed to Syria if Washington identifies more “capable local forces” as partners in the fight against the Islamic State jihadist group, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said in an interview aired on Sunday.
Carter’s comments to ABC News came about a week after the White House announced the deployment of “fewer than 50” special operations personnel in the north of the war-ravaged nation, in a bid to strengthen forces battling IS fighters.
“In order to have victory stick, you have to have local forces involved who can keep the peace after you’ve helped them win the peace,” Carter said in an interview taped aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt in the South China Sea.
“Now those are hard to find in Iraq and Syria,” he told the “This Week” news program.
If we find additional groups that are willing to fight ISIL and are capable and motivated, we’ll do more. 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.”
When asked if that could mean more American forces on the ground, Carter replied: “Absolutely.”