President Obama announced on Friday that he had ordered several dozen Special Operations troops into Kurdish-controlled territory in northern Syria to assist local fighters battling the Islamic State, authorizing the first open-ended mission by American ground forces into the country. While the deployment was small in scale, it was large in import for a president who until now had refused to send American ground troops for any sustained operations into a country devastated by more than four years of civil war. But with the fight against the Islamic State stalled, Mr. Obama concluded that a change was needed. The White House said the troops would number “fewer than 50” and insisted that they would only train and advise the local forces, not play a direct combat role against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL. But administration officials acknowledged that Americans operating closer to the […]