US considering Syria troop increase

  • 02/04/2016
Youths carry banners in protest against US airstrikes on IS in Raqqa (Reuters)
Youths carry banners in protest against US airstrikes on IS in Raqqa (Reuters)

The US government is weighing up a plan to dramatically increase the number of special operations forces in Syria to help the fight against the Islamic State (IS).

The proposal -- along with other military options -- is being prepared for US President Barack Obama, who is also considering increasing the US forces in Iraq, officials told Reuters.

The increase would capitalise on recent gains made against IS, which controls large regions in Syria and Iraq. The terrorist organisation has been losing ground in the area recently, including key cities Ramadi in Iraq and Palmyra in Syria.

The officials would not say exactly how many more troops would be sent to the region in the proposal, but that it was "many times larger" than the 50 currently in Syria.

In addition to US-backed forces recapturing the strategic Syrian town of al-Shadadi recently, the US military has been successful in taking out key IS leaders through air strikes.

More and more Arab fighters are offering to help fight IS as a result, the officials say, and the additional US forces in Syria would primarily be tasked with training the locals for ousting the militant group.

The ultimate goal for allied forces would be to liberate the IS de facto capital of Raqqa.