Obama edges deeper into Islamic State fight

WASHINGTON – Slowly but surely, Barack Obama is edging the United States deeper into a war against the Islamic State group that looks set to dominate the last year of his presidency.

After a year of air strikes that have stifled but not stopped IS jihadists, Obama’s administration this week announced a series of measures that signal the fight will be central to his remaining time in office.

After repeatedly ruling out the use of ”boots on the ground,” Obama agreed to send as many as 200 special forces to Iraq, with a mandate to carry out raids inside Syria.

Less noticed was the appointment of trusted national security aide Rob Malley to coordinate the administration’s policy against the Islamic State group, which is also known as ISIL or ISIS.

Malley has advised Obama since his 2008 presidential election campaign, and played a pivotal role in shepherding the nuclear deal with Iran — Obama’s top foreign policy priority.

Malley’s appointment is part bureaucratic housekeeping — an effort to tie together disparate diplomatic, military, intelligence, humanitarian and financial efforts.

But it is also a signal that the Islamic State group will now take up as much political bandwidth as previous priorities like the Iran deal.

”It has been clear for some time that this is an issue that is so critical to the future of the region and to the future of our relations with the region,” a senior administration official told AFP. (AFP)