WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), the Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, released the following statement on the Obama Administration’s announcement that it will send Special Operations Forces to Syria to advise and assist opposition forces in their fight against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL):

“ISIL, with its violent, extremist ideology and brutal military tactics is a strategic threat to the stability of Iraq, Syria, and beyond.  The President’s decision to send advisors to Syria makes sense because it will make Syrian forces opposing ISIL more effective.  Their mission is to provide advice and assistance and then let the Syrian commanders -- through their forces on the ground -- engage with and push back against ISIL.  These kinds of operations can also result in critical intelligence to support the coalition’s broader campaign against ISIL.

“ISIL’s destabilizing actions have created a humanitarian disaster that has unleashed a wave of refugees across the Middle East and Europe.  Allowing ISIL’s operations to go unchecked would only allow further destabilization of the region and harm American interests in Europe and the Middle East.  As Secretary Carter stated to the Committee on Monday: “we won’t hold back from supporting capable partners in opportunistic attacks against ISIL or conducting such missions directly.  Whether by strikes from the air or direct action on the ground.”

“At the same time, after nearly a decade and a half of U.S. military involvement overseas, Americans are rightly concerned about being drawn deeper into a seemingly intractable Middle East conflict.  The U.S. advisors have a clear mission and will intensify cooperation with those seeking to defeat ISIL.

“But again, the support is typically through advice, assistance, airpower, equipment, and resupply.  The fighting, and the ultimate struggle on the ground, can only be won by the local populations as they are fighting for their homes and their future.”