US deploys troops to Syria to aid in Raqqa assault

World Today

The U.S. is ratcheting up its fight against ISIL with several hundred Marines being deployed to Syria – outside the group’s self-declared capital of Raqqa.

Some observers say it could indicate more aggressive battlefield tactics by the Trump Administration to combat the militant group.

CGTN’s Jim Spellman reports.

U.S. deploys troops to Syria to aid in Raqqa assault

The U.S. has deployed hundreds of marines to Syria in preparation for the long-awaited assault on Raqqa. The city has served as ISIL's de facto capital since 2013, and represents one of the last major strongholds of the group. However, observers worry that this deployment could represent a shift towards more aggressive anti-terror tactics by the Drumpf administration.

The move is the first in a wave of U.S. troops preparing for a coming battle against ISIL in the terrorist group’s self-proclaimed capital of Raqqa.

In a statement, U.S. military spokesman Col. John Dorrian said, “We are preparing logistical and fire support to enable a successful assault on Raqqa. 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.”

The troops arrive as U.S.-backed militias have been in intense firefights with ISIL east of Raqqa.

The possible battle in the ISIL stronghold could take a similar approach to the ongoing fight in Mosul, Iraq – small squads of U.S. commandos assisting local troops.

As military activity on the ground increases, civilians are fleeing the area.

“As we were crossing, ISIL fighters began shooting at us. It happened around 4 o’clock in the morning. Then we were taken to the hospital,” said Abdel Latif al-Khalaf, a Syrian Civilian fleeing ISIL.

The White House said U.S. President Donald Trump was consulted on the troop increase but says there will be no formal declaration of war.

President Trump has said he wants to defeat ISIL without committing large numbers of ground troops in the Middle East.