US President Barack Obama.(AFP Photo / Peter Parks)
US President Barack Obama has, for the first time, admitted he would deploy US ground troops to Syria and Iraq to fight Islamic State – that is, if the extremist group obtained a nuclear weapon.
“If we discovered that [Islamic State] had gotten possession of a nuclear weapon, and we had to run an operation to get it out of their hands, then, yes,” Obama told reporters at a news conference in Brisbane, Australia, on Sunday. “I would order it.”
Since Operation Inherent Resolve – or US-led airstrikes against Islamic State (also known as ISIS or ISIL) – began in August, President Obama has maintained that he would not send a large fighting force to Syria and Iraq to confront the jihadist network, which has come to control large areas of the two adjacent Middle Eastern nations.
However, Obama authorized the deployment of about 1,500 troops to Iraq earlier this month, doubling the American military presence in the country. Yet all soldiers sent to the region are there to “advise” Iraqi forces and not engage in combat, according to official explanations.
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