President Obama is sending 250 more U.S. military personnel to combat the Islamic State in Syria, bringing the total U.S. military force in the war-torn country to about 300, according to U.S. officials. Obama will announce the new deployment Monday morning in Hanover, Germany. When Obama sent the first 50 U.S. special operations forces to Syria last year, officials described the move as a counterterrorism operation, and the increase is being explained as an effort to assist local forces as they chip away at ISIS territory.
A major focus of the new deployment "will be trying to get more Sunni Arabs to join the fight alongside Kurdish units in northeastern Syria," The Wall Street Journal reports. The U.S. has relied heavily on the Kurdish forces so far, but the Obama administration believes Sunni Arabs will need to get more involved to pry ISIS from Arab enclaves surrounding Raqqa, the de facto ISIS headquarters. The U.S. personnel won't directly engage in combat, but they will be close to the front lines, and the ultimate goal will be assisting and guiding Kurdish and Sunni Arab forces to take Raqqa, CNN reports, noting that that battle will likely be long and difficult. You can learn more in the CNN report below. Peter Weber