US to increase operational tempo against ISIL
President Trump’s demand for a new plan to defeat the Islamic State has triggered a flurry of behind-the-scenes activity at the Pentagon and State Department, where officials are poised to propose a dramatic increase in weapons for Kurdish fighters in Syria, significantly more U.S. airstrikes against the jihadi group and an expansion of American special forces commandos operating on the ground.The Turks have not been a significant contributor to the war against ISIL. Even when they said they were going to intervene it was just a pretext for attacking the Kurds. It is likely that more special forces troops will be introduced to help the Kurds in an attack on Raqqa.
Those moves, along with studying how to coordinate U.S. airstrikes with Russian forces backing Syrian President Bashar Assad, will make up the bulk of what gets presented to the White House in response to the executive order that Mr. Trump signed Friday mandating a new plan “within 30 days” to defeat the terror group also known as ISIS, officials say.
One official directly involved in the planning told The Washington Times that the proposals won’t start from scratch, but rather green-light and dramatically accelerate controversial aspects of a strategy already set in motion by the Obama administration — with the most difficult piece being the movement of more and heavier arms to the ethnic Kurdish forces without outraging NATO ally Turkey.
“The main sticking point has been Ankara,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity in reference to Ankara’s anger over U.S. support for a Kurdish militia in Syria that the Turks say is a terrorist organization linked to violent Turkish Kurdish separatists.
“We’ve been working with the Turks on this,” the official said, adding that “at some point, we will have to make a decision.”