US has sent several hundred Marines to Syria to fight against Islamic State (IS). The marines will help an allied local force which wants to capture the stronghold of Raqqa. The marines arrived a few days ago to establish an outpost from which they will fire artillery at IS positions some 32km away.
US special forces are advising the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) alliance. Colonel John Dorrian, a spokesman for the US-led multinational coalition, stated that the artillery battery near Raqqa would help defeat IS in the area.
Under the government of Barack Obama, US special forces were deployed in the area to recruit, train and advise the SDF's Arab and Kurdish fighters. The BBC reports that their number was limited to 500. The Marines' deployment is considered temporary, thus, it is not affected by the cap.
The Rangers, US involvement
Col Dorrian stated the Rangers who had arrived on the outskirts of Manbij were there for a temporary period. They want to create some assurance after the clashes between Turkish-backed Arab rebels and fighters from the Manbij Military Council, which was set up by the SDF. After Turkey's president declared the rebels want to capture Manbij, the council said it had agreed a deal with Russia to give some villages to the Syrian government to protect them.
President Donald Trump considers a new plan to defeat IS. Reports say the review may boost the number of US troops in Syria. Trump wants to give the Pentagon greater flexibility to take combat decisions in the fight against IS.
The US will send up to 1,000 troops to Kuwait to serve as a reserve force that can deployed to fight against IS in Syria and Iraq if necessary. As a whole, about 6,000 US troops are in these countries. Col Dorrian stated the operation to encircle the city could be completed soon.