Army Rangers and a U.S. artillery unit operated by Marines have been deployed to Syria in the fight to expel ISIS from Raqqa
(BEIRUT, LEBANON) A U.S. Marines artillery unit has deployed to Syria in recent days to help local forces speed up efforts to defeat Islamic State at Raqqa and the campaign to isolate the city is going "very, very well", the U.S.-led coalition said on Thursday.
Coalition spokesman U.S. Air Force Colonel John Dorrian said the additional U.S. forces would be working with local partners in Syria - the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and the Syrian Arab Coalition - and would not have a front line role.
The additional deployment comprises a total of 400 U.S. forces - both Marines and Army Rangers. It adds to around 500 U.S. military personnel already in Syria, Dorrian said.
The additional forces had arrived in "the last few days", he told Reuters by telephone.
The artillery will help "expedite the defeat of ISIS in Raqqa", he said, using another acronym for Islamic State. The Marines were armed with 155-millimeter artillery guns. Asked if they had been used yet, Dorrian said he did not believe so.
"We have had what I would describe as a pretty relentless air campaign to destroy enemy capabilities and to kill enemy fighters in that area already. That is something that we are going to continue and intensify with this new capability."
"We are talking about an additional 400 or so forces in total, and they will be there for a temporary period," he said.
Dorrian said the Army Rangers were on a different mission to the Marines in a previously announced deployment near the city of Manbij to "create some reassurance" for U.S.-allied Turkey and U.S. partners in Syria - a reference to the SDF.