Obama comes close to ruling out U.S. ground troops in Syria

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica -- President Obama on Friday came close to ruling out the use of U.S. troops in Syria, saying he does not see a situation in which that would make sense for the United States or for the Syrian people.

Speaking at a news conference in a visit to Costa Rica, Obama said that "as a general matter, I don't rule things out as commander-in-chief because circumstances change."

But, he added, "I do not forsee a scenario in which boots on the ground in Syria -- American boots on the ground in Syria -- would not only be good for America but also would be good for Syria."

He continued, "When I consult with leaders in the region who are very interested in seeing [Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad] leave…they agreed with that assessment."

Obama was asked about whether troops would be an option on the table. He didn't answer but returned to the subject  later in the news conference, saying he did not want to send a message by omission.

Senior administration officials have previously indicated that ground troops would not be a likely option if the United States escalates its role in Syria, nor are even the strongest advocates of action to help the Syrian opposition defeat the Assad regime pushing for ground action.

Obama is currently weighing whether to provide to lethal arms to the Syrian opposition, as officials try to verify whether the Assad regime used chemical weapons against the Syrian people.

Zachary A. Goldfarb is policy editor at The Washington Post.
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