Dozens of US special operations forces will arrive in Syria “very soon”, as promised by President Barack Obama’s administration, a senior official said on Sunday.
The troops will have the task of organizing local forces battling the self-proclaimed Islamic State in northern Syria, according to special envoy Brett McGurk.
“They will be going in very soon,” McGurk told CBS television’s “Face the Nation” program.
In late October, Obama authorized no more than 50 special operations forces to deploy to northern Syria in a non-combatant, advisory role to help coordinate local ground troops and anti-IS coalition efforts.
It marks the first official deployment of US troops on the ground in Syria since an international coalition formed to counter the violent extremist group.
The US troops will assist an Arab-Kurd coalition that includes the main Syrian Kurdish militia the People’s Protection Units (YPG), Arab groups and Syriac Christians.
These local forces “have been doing a very successful operation,” McGurk said.
“This is focused on isolating the capital of ISIL in Raqqa.” He said they have retaken about 1,100 square kilometres in the last two weeks and killed about 300 IS fighters.