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U.S. to deploy special ops forces to Syria to fight Islamic State

By Amy R. Connolly
Secretary of Defense Ashton B. Carter said earlier this week the United States military will ramp up efforts to fight the Islamic State on the ground in Syria. The Obama administration is expected to announce Friday the deployment of special operations to Syria. Photo by Billy Weeks/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/7f1697ecffb2506768fa7867812f04ba/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
Secretary of Defense Ashton B. Carter said earlier this week the United States military will ramp up efforts to fight the Islamic State on the ground in Syria. The Obama administration is expected to announce Friday the deployment of special operations to Syria. Photo by Billy Weeks/UPI | License Photo

WASHINGTON, Oct. 30 (UPI) -- The White House is expected to announce Friday it will deploy a small number of special operations forces in northern Syria to work alongside groups to fight the Islamic State.

A senior U.S. official said the forces will be working with rebel groups in Kurdish-controlled territories in northern Syria that have proven track records of fighting the IS, also known as Daesch, ISIS and ISIL. The role is to advise and assist, officials said.

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The move is described as a "shift" but not a "change" in the strategy against the militant group.

The Obama administration has come under mounting criticism as coalition forces to stop the IS have stalled and programs have failed to stem the tide of the militant groups. The Pentagon recently decided to drop a program to train and equip rebels in the fight.

Earlier this week, Defense Secretary Ash Carter told the Senate Armed Services Committee to expect more raids on the IS, including "direct action on the ground," which is not considered boots on the ground. The U.S. currently has about 3,300 troops in Iraq to train and advise forces and protect U.S. facilities.

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