A marine deployment that is tasked with creating an outpost to provide artillery support for US-backed local forces in their effort to take Raqqa from the Islamic State has been made in Syria.

The marine deployment marks an escalation is US involvement and places more conventional troops, rather than just special operations forces, on the ground. The deployment is not a marked difference, and plans were already underway during the Obama Administration.

The US ground force will provide fire support for local forces during their assault on Raqqa, which is also known as the Islamic States capital in Syria. The artillery battery includes 155 millimeter shells from M777 Howitzers, a powerful weapon.

The Army’s elite 75th Regiment is now in the Syrian City of Manbij, arriving over the weekend in heavily armed, eight-wheeled armored vehicles known as Strykers. Defense officials say the Army’s task is to discourage infighting among factions of Syrian and Turkish troops that could shift the focus away from the assault on the Islamic State.

The 1st Battalion, 4th Marine Division, now on the ground, is part of the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, That left San Diego in October.

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