The United States Defense Department is considering a proposition that the US military deploy conventional ground forces into the country of Syria as part of the larger coalition action against the extremist group ISIL. Until this point in the conflict, only small teams of US Special Forces have been deployed to the country to train and assist anti-ISIL forces.

President Trump may use ground forces as part of larger strategy against ISIL

Although the Pentagon may recommend the use of ground forces in Syria, the decision for an expanded combat role for US forces will come for US President Donald Trump, who campaigned for the presidency using very aggressive rhetoric against ISIL and other extremist organizations.

The use of conventional ground forces in Syria was rejected by President Trump's predecessor, former President Barack Obama, who worried of inherent risks in deploying Ground Troops and the additional resources needed for an expansion of US presence in Syria.

The United States began supplying the Free Syrian army with aid in 2011 at the outbreak of civil war in the country. Under President Obama, the US began surveillance and military intervention campaigns against ISIL in September 2014. In 2016, under President Obama, the US dropped a total of 26,171 bombs throughout the world, with approximately fifty-percent of the explosives used in Syria.

The US has also funded the Syrian Train and Equip Program since 2011, which has armed and trained moderate Syrian opposition forces inside Turkey and other ally countries, with the intention to return to Syria to fight against ISIL forces.

The US has most prominently backed Syrian Democratic Forces recently. It is estimated the Islamic State has lost around a quarter of the territory it once controlled inside Syria in the last year.

Defense Secretary Mattis comments on proposition

US Defense Secretary James Mattis recently attended his first meeting in regard to the anti-ISIL coalition led by the United States. Mattis did not rule out the possibility of sending ground troops into Syria, and said further discussion would take place with President Trump in regard to the matter.