Majority of Americans Want U.S. Ground Troops to Fight ISIS: Poll

Ground Troops ISIS Iraq Syria US
U.S. soldiers stand guard during a patrol in Mosul, Iraq, on June 17, 2009. Reuters/Saad Shalash

A new poll released on Sunday shows that for the first time, the majority of Americans want the U.S. military to send ground troops to fight the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) in Iraq and Syria.

The survey, conducted by U.S. news outlet CNN and the U.S.-based market research company Opinion Research Corporation, showed that 53 percent of those questioned believe that the U.S. should put boots on the ground to fight the radical Islamist group, which overran large areas of Syria and Iraq last year.

The survey also showed a growing unease among the American public over President Barack Obama's handling of the fight against ISIS, with 64 percent disapproving, an increase of 7 percentage points from February (57 percent) and 15 percentage points from September last year (49 percent).

Disapproval over Obama's handling of terrorism continues to rise, from 51 percent in May to 60 percent in December. Obama initiated a large coalition of nations to strike ISIS territory in Iraq and Syria in August last year and has deployed a number of special operations forces to the region to help with vital intelligence and assassination operations against top ISIS targets.

The poll showed 68 percent also believe that the U.S. military's response to the rise of ISIS has not been aggressive enough. Some 60 percent feel that the U.S. military action to combat ISIS is going badly, a decrease of 7 percentage points on October (67 percent).

In other areas of U.S. policy related to Syria and the nearly five-year-long civil war, the American public was deeply divided on allowing Syrian refugees to seek asylum in the country. In total, 38 percent of Americans believe the country should allow Syrian refugees to seek asylum, while 61 percent say they should not be allowed to do so.

The divide is even deeper between Democrats and Republicans. Some 61 percent of Democrat supporters believe Syrian refugees should be permitted to seek asylum in the U.S., while Republican supporters in favor numbered just 17 percent.

The poll was conducted by telephone interview between November 27 and December 1, before the mass shooting in San Bernardino in which an armed married couple opened fire on a holiday party, killing 14 people. It used a sample size of 1,020 American adults, 620 by landline and 400 by cellphone. The margin of error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.