President Donald Trump speaks during his meeting with Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Friday, Feb. 24, 2017. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
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WASHINGTON: U.S. President Donald Trump's push against ISIS in Syria could present him with an unenviable choice: Alienate NATO ally Turkey by relying on Kurdish fighters or adopt a plan that may slow the assault and require many more U.S. combat forces.Turkish-backed forces still may need to be trained and, potentially, supplemented by a far larger number of American troops than the 500 special operations forces in Syria now -- all factors that could slow and complicate the Raqqa campaign.The Arab component of the SDF that would aid the Raqqa operation is estimated at around 27,000, U.S. officials say, but U.S. intelligence officials say it remains disorganized and unevenly trained and requires support from Kurdish forces that are the alliance's best local fighters.Even if the United States supports the SDF in the assault, U.S. military officers hint that more U.S. troops might be needed.A decision to go with the SDF could create logistical hurdles for the United States because Turkey would likely oppose allowing U.S. troops to deploy on its border to provide close air support and long-range rocket artillery fire for the operation, said an adviser to the U.S. military.
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