'Specialized' US troops to fight ISIS in Iraq

US Defense Sec. Ashton Carter tells House Armed Services Committee allies need to 'step up' efforts to avoid 'another attack like Paris.'

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter
US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter

The United States is deploying "specialized" troops in Iraq to fight the Islamic State group (ISIS), including by leading raids against the jihadists over the border in Syria, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said Tuesday.

Speaking to the House Armed Services Committee, the Pentagon chief said that a "specialized expeditionary targeting force" was being deployed in Iraq to help Iraqi and Kurdish Peshmerga forces battle ISIS.  

"American special operators bring a unique suite of capabilities that make them force multipliers," Carter said. "Where we find further opportunity to leverage such capability, we are prepared to expand it."

He said the special forces would also be able to intervene in neighboring Syria, where Washington has already announced it is sending about 50 special operations troops.

"These special operators will over time be able to conduct raids, free hostages, gather intelligence, and capture ISIL leaders," he said, using another term for ISIS.

"This force will also be in a position to conduct unilateral operations into Syria."

US special forces have been directly involved in at least one such operation already. In October, dramatic footage emerged of an operation deep inside ISIS territory to free dozens of prisoners slated for execution. The daring operation involved both American and Kurdish special forces, and at least one US serviceman was wounded in the course of the mission.

Carter also said he was "prepared to expand" the role of its special operations forces in Syria, as he called on international powers to ramp up efforts to defeat ISIS.

His comments come as the British parliament prepares to debate whether the Royal Air Force should start bombing in Syria.

"The international community - including our allies and partners - has to step up before another attack like Paris," he said.  

"The more contributions we receive from other nations, the greater combat power we can achieve using our own force."

AFP contributed to this report.