The Pentagon is considering sending conventional ground troops, additionally to US Special Forces already operating in northern Syria. “It’s possible that you may see conventional forces hit the ground in Syria for some period of time,” one defence official told CNN on February 15. The possible deployment of ground troops are clearly linked to the ongoing campaign to isolate and to retake from ISIS the group’s self-proclaimed capital of Raqqah.
The US-baсked Syrian Democratic Forces, predominantly Kurdish YPG units, have little chances to retake the city without heavy casualties and time expenditure if they even can do it without massive supplies of heavy military equipment and other weapons. These supplies will clearly deepen the rift between Washington and Ankara which sees Kurdish insurgency as a threat to its sovereignty. In turn, the Pentagon’s idea would significantly alter US military operations in Syria if approved and could put troops on the ground within weeks.
Last friday SouthFront reported:
While the new US administration is considering a new plan of the Raqqah operation, SDF representative, Rojda Felat, has already claimed that the SDF will need more heavy military equipment, including battle tanks, to storm the city. In other words, the YPG wants to get more equipment to increase its military capabilities. But this doesn’t mean that the group will throw all what it has to storm Raqqah.
Indeed, the fate of Raqqah depends on the decision of the US administration on the issue. Earlier this month, Lieutenant General Jon Davis emphasized that the US would need not only additional airstrikes.
There are already between 300 and 500 US Special Forces troops and unknown number of French and German special forces. This number will likely be increased to retake the ISIS capital in Syria. It could indicate that the Pentagon is going to involve US and NATO forces during the operation, repeating the Mosul case. The real role of the SDF is now unclear. In any case, its goal will be to show that its “local Syrian forces” storm the ISIS stronghold.
On February 16, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford and Chief of Russia’s General Staff Valery Gerasimov was set to hold a meeting in Baku. The agreed agenda included discussion of the military cooperation between Russia and the US, as well as issues of prevention of incidents related to the military activities of the parties. The possible deployment of US ground troops to Syria, a military situation over al-Bab and the Kurdish-Turkish tensions were also clearly set to be a part of the agenda.