WASHINGTON (AP) -- The president's special envoy for the global coalition to counter Islamic State militants said Wednesday that as the U.S. continues to build its military options in Syrian, European nations might consider combat operations to battle extremists.
Retired Gen. John Allen's testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee comes a day after Defense Secretary Ash Carter signaled a possible escalation of U.S. military action in the region. Carter said the U.S. is retooling its strategy in Iraq and Syria and would conduct unilateral ground raids if needed to target IS militants.
The U.S. has conducted special operations raids in Syria and participated in a ground operation to rescue hostages last week in northern Iraq that resulted in the first U.S. combat death in Iraq since 2011. Carter did not say under what circumstances the U.S. might conduct more ground action, but said: "We won't hold back from supporting capable partners in opportunistic attacks against IS, or conducting such missions directly, whether by strikes from the air or direct action on the ground."
Allen said the U.S. military recently began asking its European allies to join it at Incirlik Air Base in Turkey where the U.S. is being allowed to launch U.S. fighter aircraft and surveillance missions into Syria.
"I expect that as time goes on, and as more opportunity becomes available to us, we may well see our European partners become more kinetically involved in Syria."
He said the anti-IS coalition is seeking to create pressure on the group and that as the U.S. does more to support some moderate groups in Syria, it might see some European allies willing to provide additional equipment, training and support or more.
"There may be opportunities in the south as well as in the north where our European coalition partners could in fact play an important role, and I'm thinking special operations," Allen said, adding that additional details could only be provided in a classified setting.