by WorldTribune Staff, September 13, 2016
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is adamant that, if she were commander in chief, Iraq and Syria “are not going to get (U.S.) ground troops.”
Clinton neglected to mention that the U.S. has some 5,000 personnel on the ground in Iraq. That includes a July deployment of 560 U.S. troops to help secure a newly retaken airbase as a staging hub for an expected offensive on Mosul.
“We are not putting ground troops into Iraq ever again. And we’re not putting ground troops into Syria,” Clinton said in an interview with NBC on Sept. 7. “We’re going to defeat ISIL without committing American ground troops.”
Meanwhile, the same national security officials the Clinton campaign is aggressively courting say the lack of a sizable U.S. ground presence in Iraq and Syria was a major factor in the rise of Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL).
Senior U.S. military officials told the Obama administration earlier this year that the U.S. needs more troops in Syria to accelerate the defeat of ISIL. “With more capacity, you can do more,” Derek Chollet, a former assistant secretary of defense in the Obama administration, told The New York Times.
The Marines have given fire support to Iraqi and Kurdish forces fighting ISIL on the Makhmour front, where one Marine was killed in an ISIL rocket attack in March. Following that incident, U.S. officials admitted they had deployed far more personnel to Iraq than they had previously disclosed to the public.
U.S. Special Forces have taken part in operations against ISIL in Iraq and Syria. In October of last year U.S. commandos, fighting alongside Kurdish peshmerga forces, freed hostages from a prison in a raid on ISIL-occupied Hawija. One U.S. commando was killed in that raid.
In May, a Navy SEAL who was part of a “quick reaction force” was killed in the town of Tel Skuf while attempting to rescue American combat advisers who were caught in an ISIL raid on peshmerga positions in that town.