“These special operators will over time be able to conduct raids, free hostages, gather intelligence and capture ISIL leaders,” Carter said, using an acronym for the Islamic State. “That creates a virtuous cycle of better intelligence, which generates more targets, more raids and more momentum.”
He said the elite American forces would also be positioned to conduct “unilateral operations” within Syria.
Several weeks ago, the Obama administration approved a plan to expand its military effort against the Islamic State, which remains dug in across Iraq and Syria despite over a year of U.S. and allied airstrikes, as well as sending Special Operations forces to Syria and increasing the number raids against militants.
In October, a Delta Force soldier was killed in a joint raid to free hostages in central Iraq, the first time since the U.S. military returned to Iraq in 2014 that an American service member died in combat there.