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Pentagon Sends White House Options To Fight ISIS

| by Robert Fowler

The Pentagon has provided President Donald Trump with a list of options to best combat the Islamic State group (ISIS). The proposals were compiled by Defense Secretary James Mattis after a month of review.

On Feb. 27, Mattis will meet and discuss plans to defeat ISIS with top Trump administration officials, also known as a "principals committee."

On Jan. 28, Trump had signed an executive action ordering Mattis to compile and present a draft to defeat ISIS within 30 days. The draft is expected to recommend options such as targeting ISIS finances, countering its propaganda campaign and even increasing the U.S. presence in Iraq.

On Feb. 23, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford, told reporters that the draft would seek to form strategies to not only combat ISIS but other terrorist organizations around the world, The Associated Press reports.

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The recommendations provided by Mattis will remain a framework until Trump makes a decision about which options to move forward with.

The list of options reportedly includes U.S. ground forces into northern Syria for the first time and lifting former President Barack Obama's administration's cap of 5,262 American troops allowed to be stationed in Iraq, CNN reports.

In Syria, the U.S. has so far only committed Special Operations teams to provide assistance to the coalition of anti-ISIS fighters. Officials from the Trump administration have noted that any ground forces sent to Syria would only provide combat support and would be directly engaged with ISIS forces.

Mattis has not spoken publicly of committing more U.S. ground forces in the operations in both Iraq and Syria, and has previously signaled a plan to continue the Obama administration's strategy of emphasizing support for the anti-ISIS forces already fighting in Mosul and Raqqa.

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On Feb. 21, Mattis asserted during his trip in Baghdad that his report would emphasize to Trump the resilience of the Iraqi army in combating ISIS, PJ Media reports.

Mattis told reporters: "And you can see the level of capability they've constituted in the middle of a war with the kind of operation that you're right now witnessing today underway."

Trump administration officials have also disclosed that one option could be to provide more arms and equipment to the Syrian Kurds, assisting them to retake Raqqa. That option could potentially strain the U.S. relationship with Turkey, which considers the group to be a terrorist organization.

Sources: The Associated PressCNN, PJ Media / Photo credit: Jim Mattis/Flickr

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