Clinton pledges no US ground troops in Iraq, Syria

clinton-kansas-afp Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton speaks during the 136th annual session of the National Baptist Convention in Kansas City, Missouri on Thursday | AFP

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton has reiterated that she will not put US ground troops into Iraq and Syria in the military campaign against the Islamic State (IS) militant group.

"I've said it on numerous occasions. I believe it. I think putting a big contingent of American ground troops in Iraq and Syria would not be in the best interest of the fight against the IS and other terrorist groups," Xinhua news agency quoted Clinton as saying on Thursday.

While she insisted that the dispatch of US ground troops "would fulfil one of their (IS) dearest wishes" of dragging the US back into a ground war in the Middle East, Clinton showcased her willingness to continue US President Barack Obama's current anti-IS strategy despite Republicans' severe criticism that the Obama administration was acting insufficiently in the campaign.

"I support the air campaign. I support special forces. I support enablers. I support surveillance, intelligence and reconnaissance. I will absolutely be prepared to do whatever is necessary to support the Arab and Kurdish fighters on the ground to take out as much of the infrastructure of the IS from the air," said Clinton.

Clinton also said she will be committed to target-killing of IS leadership.

Currently, there are about 5,000 US troops in Iraq and several hundreds more are dispatched to northern Syria.

The White House does not count them as "ground troops", arguing that those are not combat troops and are only engaged in assisting and training local forces in the fight against the IS.

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