Photos emerged Thursday showing U.S. Special Forces operating in Syria's Raqqa province alongside Kurdish YPG militants and fighters under the command of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), deemed to be moderate and an ally in the offensive against Islamic State militants in Syria.
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The photos, captured by an AFP photographer, show some of the American soldiers wearing patches of the YPG and YPJ, the YPG's all-women combat unit, either in a show of support or in an effort to hide their affiliation on the battlefield.
The troops also seemed to be maintaining a low profile, manning machine guns and automatic grenade launchers from the back of plain Toyota pick-up trucks, a vehicle referred to as a "technical" when mounted with a gun and widely used by non-governmental militants around the world.
The city of Raqqa became ISIS' de-facto capital when the militants captured the area in 2014. The U.S. has led a coalition of Western and local allies in an effort to recapture territory gained by the militants. This effort has manifested largely in airstrikes as allies on the ground were few and proved difficult to organize.
Though the administration of Barack Obama has been hesitant with troop deployment into Syria, these AFP photos seem to show the soldiers taking an active part in the offensive in Syria where U.S. presence has been said to involve a majority of military advisers and not front-line combat troops.
Approximately 300 U.S. soldiers are officially active in Syria after 250 more were announced in April, though officials stressed that the troops would not themselves be involved in combat.