A detachment of marines has deployed to the fight against the Islamic State in Syria. Hundreds of soldiers from the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit have established an outpost near Raqqa in support of the Syrian Democratic Forces.
According to Al-Jazeera a Pentagon spokesperson confirmed the deployment. There are currently an estimated 500 soldiers in Syria.
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They set up artillery positions and are expected to provide artillery support using M777 howitzers. The howitzers will be manned by soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 4th Marines.
“The Marines answer a problem that the [operation] has faced” an official told media. It will provide “all-weather fires considering how the weather is this time of year in northern Syria.”
The deployment was reportedly planned before U.S. President Donald Trump took office.
News of the marines follows the deployment of soldiers 75th Ranger Regiment to the Syrian city of Manbij this weekend. Defense officials said the rangers, deployed in armored personnel carriers, were sent to prevent any issues arising between Syrian and Turkish soldiers.
The move was seen as a bid to prevent Turkish troops from taking the city, which would damage Kurdish interests.
Defense Secretary James Mattis presented Trump with a preliminary plan to militarily defeat ISIS. The plan reportedly includes requests for additional soldiers.