President Trump’s developing plan to defeat the Islamic State may lead to significant alterations in the Syria strategy that Trump inherited from Barack Obama, including a reduction or elimination of both long-standing U.S. support for moderate opposition forces fighting against the Syrian government and the use of Syrian Kurdish fighters as the main U.S. proxy force against the militants, according to U.S. officials.
A memorandum signed late last month by Trump ordered the Pentagon and other national security agencies to draft a new proposal by late February. Trump has made clear in public statements both before and since his inauguration that he is eager to increase U.S. firepower against the militants, and willing to add more troops beyond about 500 U.S. Special Operations troops currently on the ground in Syria.
In addition to calling for “new coalition partners,” possibly to include operational coordination with Russia, Trump also ordered recommendations to change any existing military rules of engagement that are more stringent than what is required by international law.
The most prominent of these are a series of restrictions, contained in an executive order Obama signed last summer, designed to limit the number of civilian casualties caused by U.S. air attacks.
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