The United States risks major damage to its relationship with North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally Turkey if the USA includes Kurdish forces in the fight to retake Raqqa, the Islamic State group's de facto capital, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said Thursday.
The U.S. -led coalition did not confirm the strikes and there was no immediate indication from officials which nation's aircraft were involved.
Army Gen. Joseph Votel, commander of U.S. Central Command, also said that more U.S. troops - over and above the 8,500 now in Afghanistan - are needed to assist the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces in regaining territory lost to the Taliban.
U.S. Marines with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit attach a concrete barrier to a CH-53E Super Stallion during helicopter external load training at Arta Beach, Djibouti, on February 15. "Because if you mention one particular religion in the same sentence as terrorism, then the followers of that faith which in this case is 2 billion people they will be disturbed, and this is not the right thing to do".
Gen. Joseph Votel, the head of U.S. Central Command, said at a Senate hearing Thursday that the goal of the new deployment was to "to ensure that we had redundant, capable fire support on the ground to support our partners and to ensure. that we could take advantage of opportunities and ensure continued progress that we've been seeing". The details of those proposals-how much it would cost; how the US could avoid putting its own forces on the ground to protect the zones from all manner of violence; how the Russians would respond to a more aggressive USA presence; and how pouring more arms into the conflict would help promote a peaceful settlement-were either left unanswered or were conveniently ignored by the hawks.
USA forces have been in Syria since 2016, but they weren't actually involved in combat.
The report said the SDF fighters have become four kilometers from the key town of Basra west of Deir al-Zour, and 30 kilometers from the city center, which is under the Syrian government control.
By partnering with the Kurds in the Raqqa assault, the United States also risks being seen as entering into an indirect alliance with Russian Federation and Assad's government, which Moscow backs. Coalition spokesman Col. John Dorrian said that the heavy artillery will help "expedite the defeat of ISIS in Raqqa".
"The more problems they have at the same time, the more overwhelmed they're going to be", he said.
The Islamic State and its previous iterations have proved to be a highly adaptable organization despite losses of leadership and territory.
Craig said the deployment is temporary.
Several hundred Special Operations troops have advised local forces there for months, but the Pentagon has shied away from using conventional forces in Syria.
Members of the US -backed umbrella opposition group known as the Syrian Democratic Forces hold territory very near Matab, and USA strikes have been seen recently in the area in support of those forces.
The operation, called "Euphrates Shield", has a dual objective: to dislodge Isis from Jarablus, its last major redoubt on the 500-mile border, and to contain the expansion of Kurdish militias in northern Syria.
In spite of some differences in the past between the Syrian Army and the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a new understanding between them has been established in the face of a common Turkish threat, Fars News reported.
The shelling caused deaths and injuries, regime sources said.