NATO ‘has no plans’ to send ground troops to Syria
NATO says it has no plans to deploy ground troops to Syria, where a coalition of regional and non-regional countries has been purportedly targeting the Takfiri Daesh terrorist group in an aerial campaign.
“That is not on the agenda of the coalition and the NATO allies,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told Swiss newspaper Tages-Anzeiger on Monday.
The United States has already deployed dozens of ground troops to Syria on a declared mission of assisting Kurdish forces in their battle against Daesh terrorists. The presence of US troops on the ground in Syria lacks any mandate from the Syrian government. Damascus says it is a violation of its sovereignty.
Furthermore, US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said last week that the Pentagon is “prepared to expand” the role of Special Operations Forces in Syria.
Stoltenberg, however, said, “The United States has a limited number of special forces. In the foreground, however, is strengthening local forces. This is not easy, but it’s the only option,” he said.
He claimed that, since “Muslims are on the front line in this war” and that “most victims are Muslims,” the West cannot “carry on this struggle for them.”
Last month, former NATO Commander James Stavridis called for sending up to 15,000 troops to Syria to tackle Daesh.
NATO to boost Turkey’s air defense
Elsewhere in his remarks, the NATO secretary general vowed to help Turkey boost its air defense, amid ongoing tensions between Ankara and Moscow following an incident during which Turkish warplanes downed a Russian fighter jet inside Syria.
“Now it is important to de-escalate and to develop mechanisms to prevent similar incidents in the future,” Stoltenberg said, claiming, “We see a significant build-up of the Russian military presence from the far north to the Mediterranean. There, too, we need to avoid similar incidents such as in Turkey.”
The Turkish air force shot down a Russian Sukhoi Su-24 fighter jet on November 24, claiming it had violated its airspace. Moscow, however, insists the jet never left the airspace of Syria, where Russia is carrying out an aerial campaign of its own against Daesh since September 30.
The Daesh terrorists were initially trained by the CIA in Jordan in 2012 to destabilize the Syrian government.