The United States will deploy a new force of special operations troops to Iraq to conduct raids against Islamic State there and in neighboring Syria, US Defense Secretary Ash Carter said.
The deployment of the new “specialized expeditionary targeting force” is being carried out in coordination with the Iraqi government, Carter said.
“These special operators will over time be able to conduct raids, free hostages, gather intelligence and capture ISIL leaders,” Carter told the US House of Representatives Armed Services Committee, according to Reuters.
“This force will also be in a position to conduct unilateral operations into Syria.”
While the force is expected to number only about 200, its creation marks the latest stepping up of US military pressure on Islamic State, Reuters noted.
The force is separate from a previously announced deployment of up to 50 US special operations troops in Syria to coordinate on the ground with US-backed rebels fighting in a civil war.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, meanwhile, said the deployment of the new force is not acceptable without Iraq’s approval, raising questions over how closely Washington coordinated the plan with Baghdad, the report said.
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