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Americans want to get tougher with the ISIS

Americans want to get tougher with the ISIS

WASHINGTON (AP) — After terrorist attacks at home and abroad, more Americans than ever — but still less than half — support sending U.S. ground troops to fight the Islamic State, according to a new Associated Press-GfK Poll. A large majority also want a clearer explanation from President Barack Obama about his strategy to defeat the group.

The percentage of Americans who favor deploying U.S. troops to fight IS militants has risen from 31 percent to 42 percent over the past year in AP-GfK polling, although it isn't clear whether those respondents favor a small contingent or a larger ground force that might engage in another protracted Middle Eastern war.

Other national surveys in recent weeks have found similar or greater support for American ground troops.

Obama recently dispatched about 50 special operations forces to coordinate the fight in Syria, adding to the more than 3,000 troops already in Iraq. But he and most other politicians oppose sending a large American contingent to augment the U.S.-led coalition air campaign.

Most Republicans running for president have not called for that, either, although Donald Trump recently said he would support 10,000 troops, a figure originally floated by South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham.

Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton has pledged to keep American troops out of Syria, saying she would resist sending forces to fight Islamic militants even if there's another terrorist attack within the U.S.

In the poll, 56 percent of Americans said the U.S. military response to the Islamic State group has not gone far enough, up from 46 percent since October 2014.

Six in 10 Republicans, but only about 3 in 10 Democrats or independents, support sending ground troops, the poll showed.

Analysts say the public desire for more action reflects growing anxiety over the Islamic State after its attack in Paris, and the shootings in San Bernardino, California, carried out by a couple apparently inspired by the group.

There is also widespread unease about Obama's strategy, which envisions a long, slow campaign of airstrikes, diplomacy, training, financial sanctions and other measures.

White House officials say Obama recognizes the need to make the case for his strategy. The president gave an Oval Office speech last week, visited the Pentagon Monday and is expected to visit a counterterrorism facility later in the week.

But Obama has pointedly made the case against a U.S. ground invasion. The U.S. military could clear the Islamic State from its headquarters in Raqqa, Syria, but IS troops would return unless a local ground force was available to keep order, he said Nov, 16, after the attacks in Paris.

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