US troops, James Mattis

More US troops to defeat ISIS?

The transnational terrorist group, the Islamic State, is now correctly being called ISIS rather than ISIL, according to the Pentagon. But does it mean more boots on the ground?

Published: February 26, 2017, 7:38 am

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    It marks a distinct change from the Obama administration’s preference for “ISIL”.

    The renaming is consistent with the terminology used by President Donald Trump and was outlined in a February 13 memo issued by the office of Defense Secretary James Mattis, AP reported.

    Troop increases in Syria and Iraq could be part of the plan for speeding up the campaign against ISIS that Mattis has in mind, military officials said on Wednesday.

    According to the new Pentagon chief Mattis, “ISIS” is consitent with the Department of Defence designation used by the Trump administration in a January 28 directive.

    In 2013, the group’s leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi changed the name to “Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham”. Al-Sham is an archaic term that includes parts of Syria, Lebanon, Israel, the Palestinian territories and Jordan.

    After capturing large parts of Syria and Iraq in 2014 and becoming a major terrorist threat, the group called for an al-Sham caliphate for Muslims.

    In Arab-speaking nations and some other countries like France, the term for is Daesh is often used, an Arabic acronym for ISIS. The term is used ironically in Arabic.

    Trump has ordered the DoD to come up with a fresh plan for defeating ISIS. In his Senate confirmation hearing, Mattis acknowledged the possibility of “accelerating” the campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, meaning sending more US troops. Currently, the US has about 500 troops, mostly Special Forces, in Syria and more than 5 000 in Iraq in training, assistance and advisory roles.

    Mattis will submit the new plan to halt ISIS to Trump next week, Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, said Tuesday. “It will address ISIS globally, and it is not just a DoD plan,” he said.

    US troop increases in Syria and Iraq could be part of the plan for speeding up the campaign against ISIS, gen. Joseph Votel, commander of US Central Command, confirmed to reporters this week.

    “It could be that we take on a larger burden ourselves” in supporting a Syrian Kurdish force closing on the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa, Syria. “That’s an option,” Votel said.

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