BELGRADE – U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter says the United States is deploying a “specialized expeditionary targeting force” to Iraq to put more pressure on Daesh militants and be in position to conduct raids over the border in Syria.
“These special operators will over time be able to conduct raids, free hostages, gather intelligence, and capture Daesh leaders,” he said. “This force will also be in a position to conduct unilateral operations into Syria.”
He did not provide specific troop numbers but said the force will be “a larger number” than the small group of U.S. troops being deployed separately to Syria to assist opposition groups battling Daesh.
President Barack Obama in October authorized “fewer than 50” U.S. special operations forces to coordinate Syrian local fighter movements with the U.S.-led coalition efforts.
Carter said those forces are “preparing” to start operations in Syria but declined to give further details.