The United States has reportedly dispatched dozens of ground troops to Syria in a bid to shore up its airstrikes against Islamic State (Daesh) and assist Kurdish militants operating in Turkish-Syrian border regions.
A Thursday report by the Lebanese TV al-Mayadeen said the US servicemen entered Syria from Turkey through the Murshid Binar border crossing, adding that the troops numbered “50.”
The report said a number of US forces managed to reach the predominantly-Kurdish city of Ayn al-Arab, also known as Kobane, which is located in the northern province of Aleppo. It said others were dispatched to Qamishli, another Kurdish town in the northeastern province of Hasakah.
The presence of US troops on the ground in Syria is the first since Washington allegedly began targeting Daesh positions in the Arab country a few months ago. The air campaign, which also enjoys contribution from other countries in the West and the Middle East, lacks any mandate from the central government in Damascus.
The White House said last month that several dozen special operations troops will be dispatched to Syria for the first open-ended mission by US ground forces there. Washington said the troops will only advise local forces fighting Daesh and will not be directly involved in combats.
The reported dispatch of troops comes against the backdrop of US efforts to block a similar move by Russia, which has been carrying out its own air strikes against Daesh since September 30. Russian officials have denied they have a plan to send any combat troops into Syria although they say the air attacks against Daesh and other militants will intensify in the coming weeks.