President Barack Obama will be sending 250 special forces troops into Syria to train and advise local forces fighting ISIS.
The addition of these troops will bring the number of operators to 300. Up from the mere 50 that America currently has in the war-torn nation.
Although the troops are not expected to participate in combat operations, this is no guarantee that they will not. Just a few days ago AFP News released video of U.S special forces calling in airstrikes on ISIS positions in Syria during the Shadadi offensive. The operators had their weapons drawn and pointing down range over a berm.
This announcement comes only a week after a President Obama revealed that 200 more troops will be headed to Iraq to advise Iraqi soldiers as they advance toward ISIS’s stronghold in Mosul. Only a few weeks before that, the death of U.S marine from ISIS rocket fire forced the revelation of a firebase located near Makhmur, Iraq that is currently supporting the assault on Mosul with howitzers and rocket artillery.
This deployment has been months in the making. Media reports have indicated that the U.S has taken over and modified two air strips in the north of the country. One located in Rmeilan and the other southwest of Kobani. Both airstrips are located in areas controlled by Kurdish-backed Syrian Democratic Forces. American troops will likely be operating from these areas along with the 50 special operators already stationed there.
Basing at Rmeilan is especially likely. In a Stratfor report, the runway near Rmeilan was measured at 1,315 meters and appears to be paved. This would be sufficient to support strategic lift aircraft as large as a C-17 Globemaster. Basing troops near this airfield would allow them to be more easily supplied and equipped. Such a runway would also allow the United States to transport weapons to rebel forces and train them more quickly and easily.
Adding to the tension, the deployment comes as the ceasefire between the Syrian Regime and the rebel factions is breaking down. In Northern Syria violence has broken out in Qamishli between rebel forces and the SAA. Assad has attacked cities across Syria. It is clear that despite the danger and Turkish protest against helping the Syrian Kurds, the U.S is doubling down.