Over the weekend, US officials reiterated that the Obama Administration has designs on dramatic escalation of the ground wars in Iraq and Syria, with near-term plans to send as many as 200 more ground troops into northeastern Syria to “train” the Kurds.
The expectation is that the US forces will play a key role in the battle over ISIS capital city of Raqqa, though the Kurdish YPG has been predicting the capture of Raqqa within a matter of weeks for well over a year now, and hasn’t made a serious effort to attack the city.
There are also plans for a significant escalation in Iraq, though the timing of this is less certain because of the ongoing political row over Prime Minister Hayder Abadi’s cabinet. The US and Iraq made a deal to cap ground troops in Iraq at 3,870, and the US is believed to be “closer to 5,000” at this point, with more coming all the time.
Even though the Iraqi government has mostly looked the other way at the US skirting their deal, large new deployments would virtually oblige Abadi to say something, as the premier is already facing pressure from parliament for allowing so many ground troops in.