Clinton: No US combat troops to fight Islamic State

Hillary Clinton Lays Out Counterterrorism Strategy
Hillary Clinton Lays Out Counterterrorism Strategy

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton rejected the idea of sending thousands of U.S. ground troops to fight Islamic State in the Middle East, saying such a move would give the militant group a recruitment tool to boost its ranks.

SEE MORE: Clinton says would not support war declaration against ISIS

In her first television interview since the Paris attacks last month, Clinton largely backed President Barack Obama's strategy, pledging to defeat the militant group and engage Russia in the process if she wins the November 2016 election.

See Clinton on the campaign trail:

"In terms of thousands of combat troops, like some on the Republican side are recommending, I think that should be a non-starter," Clinton told CBS News in an interview that aired on Tuesday.

"I don't think it's the smartest way to go after ISIS. I think it gives ISIS a new recruitment tool," Clinton said, using an acronym for the militant group that has taken control of parts of Syria and Iraq and pledged to form an Islamic caliphate.

SEE MORE: Clinton urges stepped-up fight against ISIS in Syria

Clinton said she could not "conceive of any circumstances" in which she would agree to ground combat troops. She also said it was unclear how many other kinds of U.S. military personnel, such as special operations forces and trainers, were needed.

"You have to fight them in the air, you have to fight them on the ground and you have to fight them in cyberspace," said Clinton, who served as secretary of state under Obama.

Clinton said "we need to get over the false choice" between going after Islamic State or going after Syrian President Bashar al Assad, who has been caught up in a civil war for more than four years and has Russia's support.

"Right now, we're not going to see a military defeat of Assad. That's not going to happen now," Clinton said.

The United States has urged Russia to concentrate on attacking Islamic State, rather than moderate opposition forces opposed to Assad.

SEE MORE: The most interesting takeaways from the latest batch of Hillary Clinton's emails

Clinton said she would like Russia to take an active role in working with the United States and its allies against Islamic State or at least give its "acquiescence" to the fight.

Clinton has called for a no-fly zone over northern Syria, and told CBS she would work with Russia to keep it informed about the area covered.

(Reporting by Susan Heavey; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and Bill Trott)

SAP is the sponsor of this coverage which is independently produced by the staff of Reuters News Agency.

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