When the U.S.-backed coalition marked the anniversary of D-Day by launching its much-anticipated siege against ISIS militants in Raqqa, the Syrian Democratic Forces and Kurdish militias who encircled the city for a three-pronged assault didn’t do so alone: U.S. special operators are fighting side-by-side with regional allies as they brace for a punishing, block-by-block expulsion of jihadists from their de facto capital.
“Coalition SOF are in Raqqa, and they are close to the front lines,” Operation Inherent Resolve spokesman Col. Ryan Dillon confirmed to Military Times on June 9.
The United States has contributed significant firepower to the long slog to Raqqa as part of its “advise and assist” mission, slowly deploying Marines with M777 howitzers to pop-up firebases on the outskirts of the city, delivering small arms and anti-tank weapons to SDF and Kurdish fighters, and calling in AH-64 Apache helicopters and air strikes to cover the insertion of U.S. military advisers among advancing regional allies
But now, boots are officially on the ground. And the arrival of special operations forces — the Obama and Trump administrations’ weapons of choice, already stretched thin by multiple deployments — signals that the coalition is girding itself for a long urban firefight, similar to what Iraqi security forces faced during the long siege of Mosul.
"We expect this to be a fight very similar," Dillon told Military Times, emphasizing that U.S. forces are not “kicking down doors” but advising Syrian forces on said door-kicking. "Not quite as built-up and as a dense urban terrain as we've seen in Mosul, but nonetheless ISIS has had almost three years to prepare for this fight, and we expect it to be very difficult."
Coalition troops may have to get their boots dirty in Raqqa sooner rather than later. SDF and Kurdish fighters are facing down more than 2,500 ISIS militants infesting the narrow rooftops and alleys of the city with deadly DIY rounds. On June 6th, Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis affirmed that “hundreds” of U.S. troops are wrapped up in the operation to free the city
In March, the Pentagon was considering sending 1,000 more U.S. troops to help bolster the fight against ISIS, ordering the 75th Ranger Regiment to the city of Manbij west of Raqqa as a warning to Russian, Turkish, and Syrian fighters operating in the region. Weeks later, the DoD deployed 2,500 troops to Kuwait to stand ready to turn up the heat on the jihadists.
If the battle for Raqqa lasts longer than expected, it won’t be too long until conventional forces may be forced to dive into the fray.
GREENBELT, Md. (Reuters) - A U.S. Coast Guard lieutenant accused of amassing a cache of weapons and plotting to attack Democratic politicians and journalists was ordered held for two weeks on Thursday while federal prosecutors consider charging him with more crimes.
An undated image of Hoda Muthana provided by her attorney, Hassan Shibly. (Associated Press)
Attorneys for the Constitutional Law Center for Muslims in America have filed a lawsuit against Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Attorney General William Barr and President Donald Trump asking the court to recognize the citizenship of an Alabama woman who left the U.S. to join ISIS and allow she and her young son to return to the United States.
U.S. soldiers surveil the area during a combined joint patrol in Manbij, Syria, November 1, 2018. Picture taken November 1, 2018. (U.S. Army/Zoe Garbarino/Handout via Reuters)
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States will leave "a small peacekeeping group" of 200 American troops in Syria for a period of time after a U.S. pullout, the White House said on Thursday, as President Donald Trump pulled back from a complete withdrawal.
Construction crews staged material needed for the Santa Teresa Border Wall Replacement project near the Santa Teresa Port of Entry. (U.S. Customs and Border Patrol/Mani Albrecht)
With a legal fight challenge mounting from state governments over the Trump administration's use of a national emergency to construct at the U.S.-Mexico border, the president has kicked his push for the barrier into high gear.
On Wednesday, President Trump tweeted a time-lapse video of wall construction in New Mexico; the next day, he proclaimed that "THE WALL IS UNDER CONSTRUCTION RIGHT NOW"
But there's a big problem: The footage, which was filmed more than five months ago on Sep. 18, 2018, isn't really new wall construction at all, and certainly not part of the ongoing construction of "the wall" that Trump has been haggling with Congress over.
(From left to right) Chris Osman, Chris McKinley, Kent Kroeker, and Talon Burton
A group comprised of former U.S. military veterans and security contractors who were detained in Haiti on weapons charges has been brought back to the United States and arrested upon landing, The Miami-Herald reported.
The men — five Americans, two Serbs, and one Haitian — were stopped at a Port-au-Prince police checkpoint on Sunday while riding in two vehicles without license plates, according to police. When questioned, the heavily-armed men allegedly told police they were on a "government mission" before being taken into custody.