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US Special Forces to Deploy to Syria 'Soon'


In this 2013 photo, US special operations forces watch forces from Iraq, Jordan, and Lebanon during a multinational military exercise in Zarqa, Jordan. The government-owned Al-Rai newspaper said Monday a Jordanian policeman opened fire on American

In this 2013 photo, US special operations forces watch forces from Iraq, Jordan, and Lebanon during a multinational military exercise in Zarqa, Jordan. The government-owned Al-Rai newspaper said Monday a Jordanian policeman opened fire on American


American Special Forces will deploy to Syria soon, says the U.S. representative to the nations fighting Islamic State.

Brett McGurk, the representative, spoke on American television Sunday. He said U.S. troops will work with Arab forces.

Recently, forces fighting against Islamic State have retaken territory and killed hundreds of IS fighters.

McGurk did not say when American forces would arrive in Syria. He said fewer than 50 of them would enter northern Syria, in his words, “very soon.”

American officials said the special forces troops would train, advise and help anti-IS Arab forces.

McGurk said anti-IS forces have taken back control of about 1,100-square kilometers in the past two weeks and have killed about 300 IS fighters. He says they will try to isolate the self-proclaimed capital of IS, in Raqqa. He says officials believe Raqqa is where Islamic State terrorists plan attacks.

He said the goal of the coalition is to take back territory and kill IS leaders. The coalition wants to end the terrorists’ money supply and stop them from recruiting fighters to become IS militants.

He noted that the U.N. Security Council on Friday approved a resolution criticizing recent IS attacks. He said the resolution called attacks in Tunisia, Turkey, Beirut and Paris -- and the explosion on a Russian passenger plane in Egypt -- a “global and unprecedented threat to international peace and security.”

On Sunday, President Barack Obama said the U.S.-led coalition will destroy the IS group.

“We are intensifying our strategy on all fronts with local partners on the ground. We are going to keep on rolling back ISIL in Iraq and in Syria and take more of their leaders and commanders so that they do not threaten us, and we will destroy this terrorist organization.”

Diane Feinstein is the senior Democratic member of the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee.

“We need to be aggressive now,” she said. “ISIL has 30,000 fighters, it’s got a civil infrastructure, it’s got funding, it’s spreading in other countries, and it’s a big, big problem. It’s enormously strong and it has to be dealt with in a very strong manner.”

McGurk said the coalition has carried out operations in Syria and Iraq at the same time as Kurdish and Arab forces. These operations have successfully targeted Islamic State’s main supply route between Raqqa and Mosul, Iraq.

The U.S. Special Forces in northern Syria will organize ground forces to push down on Raqqa, he said. “We couldn’t have done that six months ago.”

He said the coalition will try to stop IS from moving into Turkey from Iraq and Syria. He said it would also work with Iraqi security forces to retake control of Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province.

And, he said, the U.S. will try to increase international cooperation to stop larger terrorist networks from sending fighters to help IS.

I’m Pete Musto.

VOA's Victor Beattie reported this story from Washington. Christopher Jones-Cruise adapted it into VOA Learning English. Kathleen Struck was the editor.

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Words in This Story

isolate – v. to put or keep (someone or something) in a place or situation that is separate from others

recruit – v. to find suitable people and get them to join a company or an organization

unprecedented – adj. not done or experienced before

strategy – n. a careful plan or method for achieving a particular goal -- usually over a long period of time

front – n. an area or field of activity -- usually singular

roll back – expression to return to a previous condition or situation

infrastructure – n. the basic equipment and structures (such as roads and bridges) that are needed for a country, region or organization to function properly

enormous – adj. very great in size or amount

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