President Barack Obama announced on Monday the biggest expansion of U.S. ground troops in Syria since the civil war there began, saying he would dispatch 250 special forces soldiers to help local militia to build on successes against Islamic State. The new deployment increases U.S. forces in Syria six-fold to about 300. While the total U.S. ground force is still small by comparison to other American deployments,

defense experts said it could help shift the momentum in Syria by giving more Syrian fighters on the ground access to U.S. close air support. Announcing the decision in Germany at the end of a six-day foreign tour, Obama said the move followed on victories over Islamic State that clawed back territory from the hard-line Sunni Islamist group. FULL REPORT