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US sending special forces to Syria

VIENNA (AFP) – The United States announced on Friday its first sustained deployment of ground troops to Syria to help the anti-militant fight, as major powers remained divided over President Bashar al-Assad’s fate.

The decision to send a small special forces team marks an escalation in Washington’s efforts to defeat the Islamic State (IS) group, which has seized Syrian territory despite more than a year of US-led air strikes.

The White House rejected accusations that President Barack Obama was backtracking on a promise not to put boots on the ground. “Our strategy in Syria hasn’t changed,” spokesman Josh Earnest said. “These forces do not have a combat mission.”