zerohedge.com / by Tyler Durden / Mar 9, 2017 8:46 AM
While the Trump administration waits to decide if it will send 1,000 troops to Kuwait to fight ISIS, overnight the Washington Post reported that the US has sent several hundred Marines to Syria to support an allied local force aiming to capture the Islamic State stronghold of Raqqa. Defence officials said they would establish an outpost from which they could fire artillery at IS positions some 32km (20 miles) away. US special forces are already on the ground, “advising” the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) alliance according to the BBC.
The defence officials told the Washington Post that the Marines were from the San Diego-based 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, and that they had flown to northern Syria via Djibouti and Kuwait. They are to set up an artillery battery that could fire powerful 155mm shells from M777 howitzers, the officials said. Another marine expeditionary unit carried out a similar mission at the start of the Iraqi government’s operation to recapture the city of Mosul from IS last year.
Under former President Barack Obama, US special operations forces were deployed to recruit, train and advise the SDF’s Arab and Kurdish fighters. However, their numbers were limited to 500.
The Marines’ deployment is considered temporary, so it is not affected by the cap. The western alliance is expected to launch an assault on Raqqa in the coming weeks, which virtually assures that hundreds more will be shipped in shortly.
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