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Pentagon Chief Announces Additional 200 U.S. Troops In Syria

Armed men in uniform identified by Syrian Democratic Forces troops as U.S. Special Operations Forces ride in the back of a pickup truck in the village of Fatisah in the northern Syrian province of Raqqa in May.

The United States is sending 200 additional military personnel to Syria to help Kurdish and Arab fighters drive the Islamic State (IS) militant group from its stronghold in Raqqa, U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter has said.

Carter said that the 200 troops, which include Special Forces trainers, advisers, and explosive-ordnance-disposal teams, will join the 300 U.S. Special Forces already in Syria, authorized to recruit, organize, train, and advise local Syrian forces to fight IS.

He was speaking in Bahrain at the Manama Dialogue conference on Middle East security on December 10.

Carter also added that Russia, which has waged an air campaign in support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad since September 2015, had "only inflamed the civil war and prolonged the suffering of the Syrian people."

The announcement comes as Syrian warplanes pounded Aleppo's last rebel-held districts. The fighting resumed after a brief respite.

U.S. officials will meet later on December 10 with their Russian counterparts to try to stop Aleppo "being absolutely, completely destroyed," U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said.

Based on reporting by AP, AFP, dpa, and Reuters