In comments today on ABC’s “This Week,” National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster downplayed the chances of the US sending more ground troops to Syria, saying that it still “remains to be seen” if more troops are needed, but that he doubts the US will have to send any more.
President Trump had appeared to rule out such deployments last week, insisting “we’re not going into Syria,” though of course US forces are already in Syria, and there are proposals still coming in calling for additional US troops to be deployed.
The indications had been that McMaster was leading the push for more troops, however, and had even argued in favor of a deployment of some 50,000 US ground troops to fight in Syria. That McMaster is the one downplaying more troops now may suggest he’s been overruled.
Instead, he insisted that the US will focus on support for “partner forces.” Reports out of Syria suggest that in addition to increased military backing for the Kurdish YPG, the US has also resumed arms shipments to various rebel factions in Idlib Province to fight against the Assad government.
That renewed focus on regime change is the most likely factor to fuel more calls for US ground troops in Syria, as the sense right now is that ISIS is increasingly surrounded, and that the Kurds will ultimately seize the ISIS capital and put them even further on the defensive.