Obama Rules Out Sending Ground Troops to Syria

Obama Rules Out Sending Ground Troops to SyriaObama Rules Out Sending Ground Troops to Syria

President Barack Obama has ruled out deploying US ground troops in Syria and says military efforts alone cannot solve the country’s problems.

“It would be a mistake for the United States, or Great Britain... to send in ground troops and overthrow the [Bashar al-] Assad regime,” he told the BBC.

He also said he did not think so-called Islamic State would be defeated in his last nine months of office. But he said: “We can slowly shrink the environment in which they operate.”

Obama, who had been on a three-day visit to the UK, also warned that Britain could take up to 10 years to negotiate trade deals with the US if it votes to leave the EU in a June referendum. Obama told the BBC that Syria was a “heart-breaking situation of enormous complexity”.

“I don’t think there are any simple solutions,” he said.

“In order for us to solve the long-term problems in Syria, a military solution alone - and certainly us deploying ground troops - is not going to bring that about.”

Obama said the US-led coalition would continue “to strike IS targets in places like Raqqa, and to try to isolate those portions of the country, and lock down those portions of the country that are sending foreign fighters into Europe”.

Obama said Syria was one of many issues that are “transnational in nature... and require a transnational response”.

He said: “It would be, I think, tempting, for a lot of people, to believe that we can pull up the drawbridge and that we can carve a moat around ourselves and not have to deal with problems around the world.”

But without co-operation and alliances “we are far weaker and we won’t solve these problems”, he said.