Fatisah (Syria) (AFP) - US forces on the ground in northern Syria are helping a major offensive against the Islamic State group in its stronghold of Raqa province, Kurdish-Arab fighters battling the jihadists say.
Near the frontline north of the IS bastion of Raqa city, American commandos climbed onto a low rooftop carrying US-made anti-tank missiles.
"These are US special operations forces and this is why you cannot follow them or take many pictures," said a fighter with the Syrian Democratic Forces, which announced on Tuesday an assault on the jihadists north of Raqa.
The Pentagon is not happy with the pictures. And the questions.
The Pentagon Thursday denied the presence of U.S. troops on the front
lines in Syria despite photographic evidence showing special operations
troops fighting alongside Kurdish forces in an offensive to retake
Raqqa from the Islamic State.
Peter Cook, the Pentagon press secretary, maintained the Obama’s
administration’s claim that ground troops in Syria are solely serving in
advisory and assistance roles in the war-torn region.
“They are not on the forward line. They are providing advice and assistance,” Cook said
during a testy exchange with reporters. “That mission has not changed,
their role has not changed. They are not leading this fight. They are
supporting those forces that are at the leading edge of this fight, and
they are doing it in a very effective fashion.”
'Not on the forward line', does that mean they're barely behind, or in front of it? And 'supporting those forces' could have several meanings, now couldn't it?
Could be wrong, but I suspect this is Dear Leader's minions playing as much as possible his "No American boots on the ground(unless I flatly can't deny them, and I really want to because I said we're out of there)!" games.
Oh, and the Turks are pissed because of the patches some of those troops are wearing:
Turkey on Friday lashed out at the United States after images surfaced apparently showing U.S. soldiers in Syria wearing the insignia of a Kurdish group opposed by Ankara.
Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said during an international conference in southern Turkey that it was "unacceptable" for soldiers of a Turkish ally to use the patches of the YPG — the Kurdish People's Protection Units which are fighting the Islamic State group in northern Syria.
I doubt the Turks would be happy with the response I'd give them.
Pics of the patches in question here.