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US to Send 'Specialized' Force to Iraq to Fight IS

by VOA News December 01, 2015

U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter says the United States is deploying a 'specialized expeditionary targeting force' to Iraq to put more pressure on Islamic State (IS) militants and be in position to conduct raids over the border in Syria.

Testifying before the House Armed Services Committee Tuesday, Carter said the force would help Iraqi and Kurdish peshmerga forces in the fight against the extremist group. He said the deployment was being done in cooperation with the Iraqi government.

'These special operators will over time be able to conduct raids, free hostages, gather intelligence and capture ISIL leaders,' he said, using another acronym for the group. 'This force will also be in a position to conduct unilateral operations into Syria.'

Carter did not provide specific troop numbers but said the force would have 'a larger number' than the small group of U.S. troops being deployed separately to Syria to assist opposition groups battling IS.

President Barack Obama in October authorized 'fewer than 50' U.S. special operations forces to coordinate Syrian local fighter movements with the U.S.-led coalition efforts.

Carter said those forces are 'preparing' to start operations in Syria but declined to give further details.

VOA National Security Correspondent Jeff Seldin and Capitol Hill Correspondent Cindy Saine contributed to this report.

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