A US soldier is being sent to Syria to fight alongside Russian and Syrian forces to help counter the Islamic State, which has seized swathes of territory in the country.
US Army Gen Joseph Votel will be deployed to the Middle East to lead a US-led coalition in an operation codenamed “Assistance Mission,” a US official told the Associated Press.
The US has sent more than 700 troops to Syria since the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) were declared the sole legitimate government in the north of the country in December 2016.
“The US will provide support to the SDF to assist them in the fight against ISIL (the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant),” Gen Votels mission statement said.
General Votelson’s mission will include “support for the SDS (Syrian Democratic Forces) and support for their ability to defend themselves against ISIL,” it said.US forces have been involved in air strikes in support of the SDP against the IS group since August.
Gen Votelles mission is also aimed at improving security coordination between SDF and Syrian government forces in Syria.
The US military is the first country to send troops to the Syrian war, and its participation is seen as a step towards a more permanent role for the US in the region.
China, Russia and Turkey have also sent troops to support the SDC.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has said his country is willing to work with Russia and the SED to defeat the IS.
Russia’s Defense Ministry said Gen Vots deployment is part of a broader effort to help secure the borders of the Middle Eastern country.
Gen Vots mission comes after the US said it would send 2,000 troops to Iraq in March, and the Syrian Democratic Army (SAA) has vowed to continue fighting the Islamic state group.
A US official said the US is also sending more than 1,000 Special Operations troops to assist the SDA in Iraq.
The SDF began taking the fight to the Islamic group last month, and President Donald Trump has been pressing his allies to assist.