15 Times Obama Said He Would Not Put American Boots on the Ground in Syria

November 4, 2015

President Obama repeatedly said he would not place American boots on the ground in Syria before his administration announced last week that he would be doing just that with a deployment of 50 special operations forces to the war-torn country.

On May 3, 2013, he conditioned it was a future possibility regarding the Syrian civil war but said he did not "foresee" it happening.

"As a general rule, I don’t rule things out as commander-in-chief because circumstances change and you want to make sure that I always have the full power of the United States at our disposal to meet American national security interests," Obama said. "Having said that, I do not foresee 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."

In August 2013, after reports of Bashar al-Assad's violation of Obama's "red line" with chemical weapons used against his own people, Obama elected to order targeted air strikes while repeatedly promising that no "boots on the ground" would be involved.

"What we're not talking about is an open-ended intervention," Obama said Sept. 7, 2013, in a weekly video address. "This would not be another Iraq or Afghanistan. There would be no American boots on the ground. Any action we take would be limited, both in time and scope, designed to deter the Syrian government from gassing its own people again and degrade its ability to do so."

A Russian-brokered agreement, purportedly to get Assad's weapons out of Syria, averted any use of force in the end.

In 2014, as the Islamic State's rampage across Iraq and Syria began in earnest, Obama said that boots on the ground would not be considered as the administration considered options to fight the terrorist threat.

"With respect to the situation on the ground in Syria, we will not be placing U.S. ground troops to try to control the areas that are part of the conflict inside of Syria," he said in Wales on Sept. 5, 2014. "I don't think that's necessary for us to accomplish our goal. We are going to have to find effective partners on the ground to push back against ISIL."

As recently as July 6, 2015, Obama told reporters there were "no current plans" to deploy more troops overseas.