Defense Secretary Ash Carter said the U.S. "absolutely" could send more American troops to war-torn Syria to help in the fight against the Islamic State.

"If we find additional groups that are willing to fight ISIL and are capable and motivated, we'll do more," Carter said during an interview this week aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt in the South China Sea. He was speaking to ABC News' Bob Woodruff.

"The president has indicated a willingness to do more, I certainly am prepared to recommend he do more, but you need to have capable local forces; that's the key to sustainable victory," Carter said.

While Russian military forces have bolstered Syrian President Bashar Assad's bid to quash the more than four-years-old civil war, U.S.-backed rebel groups have struggled to maintain a foothold. President Obama has refused to send American soldiers to fight Assad, though the he has called for Asad's ouster, but at the end of last month the administration intensified its mission by sending up to 50 U.S. special operations troops to "train, advise and assist" various "local opposition" forces in northern Syria to fight the Islamic State.

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