The presence of US Army Rangers in Syria was made public when photos of their Stryker vehicles and armored Humvees in the northern Syrian town of Manbij were leaked.
“The exact numbers and locations of these forces are sensitive in order to protect our forces, but there will be approximately an additional 400 enabling forces deployed for a temporary period to enable our Syrian partnered forces to defeat ISIS in Raqqa,” said USAF Col. John L. Dorrian, the official spokesperson for Operation Inherent Resolve.
According to the NY Times, the formal troop cap for Syria is 503, but commanders have the authority to temporarily exceed that limit to meet military requirements.
“We are preparing logistical and fire support to enable a successful assault on Raqqa, the self-proclaimed capital of ISIS,” said Dorrian.
The increase includes Army Rangers from the 3rd Battalion of the 75th Ranger Regiment out of Fort Benning and a Marine artillery unit, which have already arrived in the country.
“Our indigenous partners in Syria face an entrenched foe and like the Iraqis, will require additional support to enable them to fight and defeat ISIS in Raqqa,” said Dorrian.
Dorrian said the Rangers and Marines will provide artillery support, training and protection from I.E.D’s for the Syrian fighters offensive to retake Raqqa from the Islamic State. The decision to deploy the US Marines was similar to the decision to use Army artillery to support the Iraqi forces assault on Mosul.
It is not clear which forces will actually seize control of Raqqa as ISIS is defeated. U.S. military commanders have expressed their favor for a mixed force of Syrian Arabs and the Kurdish Y.P.G. militia but Turkey has objected to arming the Kurds.
More information about the the situation in Syria plans to fight the Islamic State is expected to be released when General Votel testifies to the Senate Armed Services Committee Thursday morning.
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