Several hundred U.S. Marines have been deployed to Raqqa, Syria, the de-facto capital of the Islamic State (ISIS) militant group, to assist local forces on the ground in a bid to recapture the city.
Defense officials told The Washington Post that the troops will help Syrian forces in the upcoming battle to oust ISIS from Raqqa. U.S. Marines will be temporarily stationed at “an outpost from which they can fire artillery guns,” the newspaper reports. Their positions will be about 20 miles away from ISIS-controlled areas.
The troops are from the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit and they arrived in Syria with M777 Howitzers, which are capable of firing 155mm shells, NBC News reports. The Syrian Defense Forces (SDF), the group the Marines will be supporting, is an amalgamation of forces that includes the main Syrian Kurdish group, the People’s Protection Units (YPG).