Reuters reports: U.S. officials disclosed plans on Friday to station the first American boots on the ground in Syria in the war against Islamic State fighters, saying dozens of special forces troops would be sent as advisers to groups fighting against the jihadists.
The announcement of the small ground force came as diplomats from more than a dozen countries held talks over Syria, which for the first time in the more than four-year-old civil war were attended by President Bashar al-Assad’s ally Iran.
In a rare hint of diplomatic progress, Tehran signaled it would back a six-month political “transition” period in Syria followed by elections to decide Assad’s fate, although his foes rejected the proposal as a trick to keep the president in power.
The Vienna talks ended without a specific conclusion apart from an agreement to reconvene in some form next week, delegates said. In addition to Assad’s fate, key sticking points have long included the question of which rebel groups should be considered terrorists and who should be involved in the political process. [Continue reading…]