US fight against Daesh needs ‘boots on the ground’: air force secretary

Published November 10th, 2015 - 07:39 GMT

The US military will require “boots on the ground” in Syria and Iraq in order to retake territory from the Daesh group because air power alone can’t defeat the group, the head of the US Air Force says.

"Air power is extremely important. It can do a lot but it can't do everything," Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said Tuesday at the annual Dubai Airshow.

"Ultimately it cannot occupy territory and very importantly it cannot govern territory," she told reporters. "This is where we need to have boots on the ground. We do need to have ground forces in this campaign."

US Air Force Lieutenant General Charles Brown said on Saturday that Washington and its allies will increase airstrikes inside Iraq and Syria against Daesh in the coming weeks.

A US-led coalition has been bombing Daesh targets in Syria and Iraq for over a year, but the air campaign has been largely ineffective.

US President Barack Obama authorized the deployment of "fewer than 50" special forces to Syria on October 30, reversing a longstanding refusal to put US boots on the ground.

On Sunday, US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said that more US troops could "absolutely" be deployed to Syria if the Pentagon identifies more "capable local forces" that can fight against Daesh.

While US forces are believed to have conducted covert missions in Syria before, they had not previously been deployed there on a sustained basis.

Despite this, the United States -- with assistance from its regional allies especially Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia -- has been arming and training militant units to combat the Syrian government and the Daesh group.

With permission from the Damascus government, Russia launched an air campaign on September 30 against Daesh and other militants in Syria.

This ariticle has been modified from the source material.

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