U.S. Special Forces embed with Kurdish forces, join fight for capital of ISIL’s caliphate

by WorldTribune Staff, May 27, 2016

U.S. special operations forces are “present at all positions along the front” and are assisting a Kurdish-Arab coalition “on the ground and in the air,” in the offensive against Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) in its de facto Syria capital of Raqqa.

Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) field commander Hawkar Kobane told AFP that “U.S. forces are taking part in this operation” alongside his own troops.

Armed men in uniform identified by Syrian Democratic forces as US special operations forces ride in a pickup truck in the village of Fatisah, in the northern Syrian province of Raqa on May 25. /AFP/Delil Souleiman
Troops identified by SDF as U.S. special operations are seen in the village of Fatisah in the northern Syrian province of Raqqa on May 25. /AFP/Delil Souleiman

“On the rooftop of this house, there are U.S. forces using (anti-tank) TOW missiles to fire on the explosives-rigged cars that Daesh (ISIL) is using to attack the SDF,” he said.

The SDF includes about 25,000 Kurdish fighters and around 5,000 Arab fighters. The Kurds have played a major role in pushing ISIL jihadists back in Syria’s northeast.

The first of 250 U.S. commandos were set to arrive this week in northeast Syria to support the fight, joining dozens of advisers already on the ground.

An AFP photographer said he saw as many as 20 U.S. soldiers in Fatisah on May 25 and heard them communicating in English.

“The American forces present here have a lot of experience,” Kobane said. “We will take advantage of their experience to fight terrorism and capture the other villages as quickly as possible with as few casualties as possible.”

Another SDF field commander, Baraa al-Ghanem, said U.S. fighters were “present at all positions along the front… They are taking part on the ground and in the air.”

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