While President Obama still opposes the use of combat ground troops in Iraq, the White House admits that he still wants the option of sending in special forces for combat operations against Islamic State terrorists.
“The president has clearly ruled out the use of U.S. military personnel in a ground combat role in Iraq,” Earnest said, before adding a clarification that he was “unwilling” to completely ever rule out the use of combat ground troops.
Earnest admitted that Obama was also firmly against the use of ground troops in Syria, but acknowledged that last weekend’s special forces raid that killed an ISIS leader may appear to contradict his statement.
According to the New York Times, two dozen Delta Force commandos entered Syria last week to kill an ISIS leader and about a dozen fighters.
“For exceptions like that I would preserve some wiggle room,” he said. “But as a matter of policy, the president has been clear, that we’ve learned the lessons of the previous Iraqi invasion and that U.S. military cannot be in the situation where we are bearing the load providing for the security of the Iraqi people.”
Earnest admitted that during the Iraq war under President George W. Bush, American troops successfully drove out terrorist militants on the “short term” but blamed former Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki for failing to capitalize those gains.