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Carter Calls for US 'Boots on the Ground' in IS Fight


Defense Secretary Ash Carter has called for continued U.S. "boots on the ground" in Iraq and Syria to defeat the Islamic State (IS) group.

Speaking in an interview with CNBC television at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Carter said U.S. forces on the ground will "enable" local forces and remain focused on an advise and assist mission.

"We're looking for opportunities to do more, and there will be boots on the ground. I want to be clear about that," Carter said. "But it's a strategic question, whether you are enabling local forces to take and hold, rather than trying to substitute for them."

U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter attends a news conference at the French Defence Ministry in Paris, France, Jan. 20, 2016.

U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter attends a news conference at the French Defence Ministry in Paris, France, Jan. 20, 2016.

The secretary will be meeting with several defense ministers in two weeks. He says many countries are not doing enough in the war against IS, saying that they are in the fight "on paper."

"The United States does not ask people for favors...," he said. "We're looking for other people to play their part."

The United States currently has about 3,550 service members in Iraq, with about 2,750 of those supporting Iraqi security forces as trainers, advisers or support staff, according to Central Command data released to VOA.

There are less than 50 U.S. special forces in Syria.

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    Carla Babb

    Carla is VOA's Pentagon correspondent covering defense and international security issues. Her datelines include Ukraine, Turkey, Pakistan, Korea, Japan and Egypt.

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