Syrian MP: US decision to send troops is act of aggression

In this Oct. 27, 2015, photo, President Barack Obama speaks at the 122nd International Association of Chiefs of Police Annual Conference in Chicago. Even as Obama sent U.S. troops back to Iraq and ordered the military to stay in Afghanistan, he insisted Syria would remain off limits for American ground forces. Now the president has crossed his own red line. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) — The United States’ decision to send troops into Syria is an act of aggression because it does not have the government’s agreement, a Syrian member of parliament said Saturday.

Sharif Shehadeh told The Associated Press that the troops will have no effect on the ground, but that Washington wants to say it is present in Syria.

“What has happened to make America realize, after five years, that it should send between 30 and 50 military advisers?” asked Shehadeh, referring to the start of the country’s crisis in March 2011 that has since killed more than 250,000 people.

American officials say up to 50 special operations troops will be sent to assist Kurdish and Arab forces in northern Syria.

Secretary of State John Kerry speaks during a news conference in Vienna, Austria, Friday, Oct. 30, 2015. The U.S., Russia and more than a dozen other nations have directed the U.N. to begin a new diplomatic process with Syria's government and opposition with the goal of reaching a nationwide cease-fire and political transition. (Brendan Smialowski/Pool via AP)
Secretary of State John Kerry speaks during a news conference in Vienna, Austria, Friday, Oct. 30, 2015. The U.S., Russia and more than a dozen other nations have directed the U.N. to begin a new diplomatic process with Syria’s government and opposition with the goal of reaching a nationwide cease-fire and political transition. (Brendan Smialowski/Pool via AP)

A U.S.-led coalition has been targeting the Islamic State group with airstrikes since September 2014, killing 12,000 extremists without weakening the group.

The decision to send U.S. troops to Syria comes a month after Russia began launching airstrikes against insurgents in the country. Russia’s airstrikes were agreed upon with the Syrian government.

“When America sends ground forces into Syrian territories without an agreement with the Syrian government it becomes an intervention and aggression,” Shehadeh said by telephone. “Will America allow Russian ground forces to go into America without an agreement? I think the answer is no.”

The U.S. has conducted special operations raids in Syria before and is expected to continue to carry out more unilateral raids.

The U.S. decision came as activists said some rebel groups, as well as the main U.S.-backed Kurdish militia known as the YPG, are preparing for an offensive against IS in its de facto capital of Raqqa. Earlier this month, U.S. cargo planes dropped small arms and ammunition to Arab groups fighting IS in northern Syria in what appeared to be preparation for the attack.

On Saturday, the Democratic Forces of Syria, a coalition of Arab, Christian and Kurdish factions in northern Syria, declared that they have started an operation to “liberate” areas south of the northeastern city of Hassekeh.

IS has several strongholds in the predominantly Kurdish province of Hassakeh that borders Iraq.

From left, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Secretary of State John Kerry, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir and Turkish Foreign Minister Feridun Sinirlioglu stand together before a meeting in Vienna, Austria, Thursday, Oct. 29, 2015. Kerry and other leaders are in Vienna to discuss solutions to the conflict in Syria. (Brendan Smailowski/Pool via AP)
From left, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Secretary of State John Kerry, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir and Turkish Foreign Minister Feridun Sinirlioglu stand together before a meeting in Vienna, Austria, Thursday, Oct. 29, 2015. Kerry and other leaders are in Vienna to discuss solutions to the conflict in Syria. (Brendan Smailowski/Pool via AP)

The announcement was carried by the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and social media pages of rebel groups.

The Rebels Army group carried the statement from the coalition’s spokesman who goes by the name of Abu Ali as vowing to “cleanse Syria’s soil from the filth of terrorist groups.”

Associated Press writer Bassem Mroue in Beirut contributed to this report.

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