President Barack Obama on Monday vowed to accelerate the U.S.-led military campaign against the Islamic State in both Syria and Iraq, implicitly acknowledging that progress has been too slow as the extremist group expands its reach with deadly attacks beyond the Middle East.
Speaking at the Pentagon after meeting with his National Security Council, Obama revealed that a group of American special operations commandos has begun working with local fighters in Syria to “tighten the squeeze” on Raqqa, the extremists’ nominal capital. He cited this as an example of aggressive new action, in addition to an intensified bombing of the oil infrastructure in Syria that provides much of the Islamic State’s revenue.
The administration announced in late October that Obama had approved sending up to 50 special operations troops to Syria on the first open-ended mission by U.S. ground forces in Syria. Until now, U.S. officials had refused to say whether the American commandos had begun their mission.
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