Video Emerges Of U.S. Marines Rolling Into Syria For Raqqa Offensive

Tyler Durden's picture

Yesterday we noted that the Trump administration was mulling over sending 100s of U.S. Marines to Raqqa to establish an outpost from which they could fire artillery at IS positions to support U.S. special forces and Kurdish fighters already on the ground.  Now, just one day later, video has emerged of dozens of heavily armored vehicles flying U.S. flags moving through desolate Syrian villages on their way to do just that.

The vehicles captured amid the maneuvers are a part of an amphibious task force of the 11th US Marine Expeditionary Unit that recently arrived in Syria to assist the Kurdish-led SDF and Syrian Arab Coalition as they are preparing for an operation to recapture the Islamic State’s stronghold of Raqqa.

Deployment of the approximately 400 U.S. Marines was confirmed by US officials earlier today after reports of their ground presence surfaced yesterday. While the unit will be playing a crucial role in providing support for rebels in the coming offensive, in particular in form of artillery fire from M777 Howitzers capable of striking targets at a range of up to 20 miles, they will not engage in frontline combat and are supposedly only in Syria “for a temporary period.”

Per RT, US Air Force Colonel John Dorrian, spokesman for the US-led coalition, was optimistic about the timing of the operation, as he stated that the effort by the forces battling ISIS in the area, to encircle the city, has been “going very, very well.”


Under former President Barack Obama, US special operations forces were deployed to recruit, train and advise the SDF's Arab and Kurdish fighters. However, their numbers were limited to 500.

The Marines' deployment is considered temporary, so it is not affected by the cap. The western alliance is expected to launch an assault on Raqqa in the coming weeks, which virtually assures that hundreds more will be shipped in shortly.

A spokesman for the US-led multinational coalition against IS, Colonel John Dorrian, told Reuters news agency on Thursday that the dozens of Rangers who recently arrived on the outskirts of Manbij, about 110km (68 miles) from Raqqa, were also there "for a temporary period".

Additionally, over the weekend, a separate force of elite US army Rangers was also deployed near a town north-west of Raqqa in heavily armoured vehicles, in an attempt to end clashes between SDF fighters and a Turkish-backed rebel force. Pentagon officials had earlier said the Rangers were taking part in a "reassure and deter" mission following clashes between Turkish-backed Arab rebels and local fighters from the Manbij Military Council, which was set up by the SDF when it captured the town from IS last year.

Last week, after Turkey's president said the rebels aimed to capture Manbij, the council said it had agreed a deal with Russia to hand a string of villages on the frontline over to Syrian government forces in order to protect them. Turkey considers the Kurdish Popular Protection Units (YPG) militia, which dominates the SDF, an extension of the banned Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which operates inside Turkey.

Is this a US escalation?

The short answer: yes; the official one: "it is not yet clear", but the deployment comes as President Donald Trump considers a new plan to defeat IS that was submitted by the Pentagon late last month. Reports say the review may lead to an increase in the number of US troops in Syria, but not a dramatic shift in strategy.

The Associated Press news agency reports that Mr Trump wants to give the Pentagon greater flexibility to make routine combat decisions in the fight against IS. Commanders on the ground were frustrated by what they considered micromanagement by the Obama administration, it adds. As reported last night, the US is also said to be preparing to send up to 1,000 troops to Kuwait to serve as a reserve force that can deployed to fight IS in Syria and Iraq if necessary.

In total, about 6,000 US troops are in the countries, but largely in advisory roles.

Why Is Raqqa so important?

As the WSJ writes overnight, the ongoing "three-way contest" for Raqqa will shape the mideast. Here are some details:

As the Syrian conflict enters its sixth year, the outcome of the scramble for Islamic State’s de facto capital will shape the balance of power in the Middle East for the foreseeable future.


With the self-styled caliphate rapidly shrinking in Iraq after the loss of much of Mosul, the fall of Raqqa and Islamic State’s remaining territories in Syria has become just a matter of time. The contest over who gets these spoils, however, threatens to unleash a new spiral of violence that could draw regional and global powers deeper into the conflict.


The three forces aiming for Raqqa—Sunni Arab rebels, the Syrian regime and Kurdish-led militias—all view control over that area as giving them crucial leverage in any political settlement of the war.

The complicated dynamic is further muddled by the strategic calculations of their main sponsors, whose own interests extend far beyond the power struggle inside Syria.


Turkey, the main supporter of the rebel Free Syrian Army and allied Sunni Arab militias, is most interested in weakening the main Syrian Kurdish political faction, which is affiliated with the PKK, or Kurdistan Workers’ Party. The PKK is waging a violent campaign inside Turkey and is considered a terrorist group by Washington and Ankara alike.


For the Syrian regime’s main backer Russia, which has developed ties with the Syrian Kurds and, of late, with some Sunni Arab rebels, the main goal is to capitalize on its costly investment in Syria and to cement the achievements of its military campaign through a political deal.


The Trump administration, meanwhile, is still reviewing its Syria policy. Its actions, for now, remain driven almost exclusively by the military priorities in the battle against Islamic State, with limited attention to America’s other interests and alliances in the region.

More here.

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wren's picture

And the US ground invasion of Syria begins...

BigFatUglyBubble's picture

Obama 3rd term, Bush 5th term

FireBrander's picture

Suadi Arabia FUNDS ISIS; documented, of all places, in the New York Times...


NOV. 21, 2015

ISIS Women and Enforcers in (Raqqa) Syria Recount Collaboration, Anguish and Escape


"...The Organization (ISIS) imposed taxes, which cut further into the family’s income. When a Saudi fighter came to ask to marry Dua, in February 2014, her father pushed her to accept.


>>The Saudi, Abu Soheil Jizrawi, came from a wealthy construction family in Riyadh<<

 and promised to transform Dua’s life. She deliberated and eventually agreed. She met him for the first time on their wedding day, when he arrived bearing gold for her family. She liked what she saw: Abu Soheil was light-skinned with a soft black beard, tall and lanky, with charisma and an easy way of making her laugh.


He set her up in a spacious apartment with new European kitchen appliances and air-conditioning units in each room — almost unheard-of in Raqqa. She eagerly showed off her new home to friends and relatives. Her kitchen became the place where the other fighter’s wife in the building — a Syrian who, like Aws, had married a Turkish recruit — stopped in for coffee. Each morning, Abu Soheil’s servant shopped for them and left bags of meat and produce outside the door."


TeamDepends's picture

Go in with a vengence, wipe out the CIA pawns in 24 hours, then return home and do the same here. Starting with Goldman....

Shemp 4 Victory's picture

WSJ mathematics exhibits a fence post error:

As the Syrian conflict enters its sixth year

The Syrian Spontaneous Uprising for Freedom and Democracy and Definitely Not Another US-Incited Overthrow® began in March 2011, so it is entering its seventh year.

Sanity Bear's picture

Did I miss a declaration of war?

curbjob's picture

Go marines ! Got to get to those Isis arms caches to rip off the USAid labels.

HowdyDoody's picture

It is not only Russia that is helping Syria defeat ISIS, it is Lebanon, Iraq and Iran. These guys are not scared to do hardcore urban fighting even if air cover is not present. The US ground forces on the other hand ...

Canary Paint's picture

Yes... And this is exactly why I am terrified and fucking sick to my stomach at the moment... Been telling people, "Give Trump a chance!"

Because if he was serious about re-evaluating our foreign policy, the mid- to long-term benefits for the US, for its economy, for its moral credibility, could be huge.

Now, look at this. The Syria-Rusia-Iran-Lebanon group is fully capable of wiping ISIS from the face of Syria. We could work with Iraq so those little turds can't come running there.

But no... Let's throw some of our fine, young men into Syria. Fuck! I hate our fucking politicians!

JuliaS's picture

US declared war on the rest of the world.

BullyBearish's picture

that used to be the job of an old forgotten group of puppets who became totally irrelevant but still collected their salaries and pensions...

Itinerant's picture

Meantime, the Kurds (36 million) who were promised their own country by the Allies post WW I, are being decimated by the Turks firing artillery shells into neighbourhoods in ancient Kurdish cities that already existed before the Turks ever came to Turkey. But it's the PKK that are the terrorists, not the Turks. Go figure.

magnetosphere's picture

osama bin laden's mother and wife were both syrian alawites. just like ur story, except even weirder.

as expected, the very 1st actual concrete action of trump's presidency, is to send in the army to conquer syria.

shuckster's picture

I don't get this comment. Becuase Trump has troops in the middle east, that makes him Obama and Bush? Should we just ignore the middle east and pretend it doesn't exist. As if 40% of our oil doesn't come from there. And 400 soldiers/Marines isn't a full invasion. In Iraq we had sometimes up to 150,000 boots on the ground. Trump has a long way to go before I lump him into the Obama/Bush category. Even Bush has a long way to slide before he gets lumped into the Obama category 

Shemp 4 Victory's picture


Becuase Trump has troops in the middle east, that makes him Obama and Bush? Should we just ignore the middle east and pretend it doesn't exist.

I guess it just depends. Were those US troops invited to Syria by the Syrian government? If so, then everything is cool.

shuckster's picture

I'm sorry, I don't follow? Are you suggesting the US military should ask permission from a country before it invades? And is any military action unnacceptable to the readers of ZH?

BullyBearish's picture

These F*&(&ers just LOVE to kill muslims...can't think of a better recruiting tool than "Go to Syria to kill U.S. infidels"...SAD

Cman5000's picture

Begun the Clone War has. 

thunderchief's picture

False flag candy for the next crisis. 

Isn't Syria a country, or can anyone just role on in?

Ignatius's picture

Illegal under international law, lest invited by Syria.

International law and rule by law, what a quaint concept.

BullyBearish's picture

To paraphrase one of our outstanding presidents, dick nixon, "international law is what I say it is"...

king leon's picture

For what good the UN does it may as well be disbanded, the UN is just a convenient tool for the US.

tenpanhandle's picture

The US is just a convienant tool for the UN.

seabiscuit's picture

Anyone notice all of the American flags? This is a fucking psy-op boys.

Nobody For President's picture

Yep. How about we just send a bunch of American flags to Syria for our 'allies' we fund and equip and let them fly the damn flag. Bring our guys home, or at least offshore or in Euro countries. Germany is probably still pretty good duty.

Archive_file's picture

Long body bags and caskets.

BigFatUglyBubble's picture

Lamb of God - "Hourglass"

Privileged, a chosen few
Blessed with our time in hell
Witness a divine vision, the day we all fell still.
Rapture of the dying age, a shattered hourglass
Wrath of the warring gods and so this too shall pass.
It's only getting worse, not worth a moment's regret
Each dawn another curse, every breath a twisting blade
What will be left behind in the ashes of the wake?
An ill wind blows this way, the edge of the envelope burns
Forbearance and my vengeance, payment for you intent
Fear and death in the wings, in thrall of those fallen from grace
Petty is as petty does, witness the mass disgrace.
God forbid you read the signs, watch for meanings between the lines
Gehenna has now arrived, no hindsight for the blind.
Your trust has been misplaced, believed the lies told to your face
Became another casualty and now it's too late.
You finally made it home, draped in the flag that you fell for.
And so it goes
The a shes of the wake.
It's only getting worse...

zippy_uk's picture

"Bomb the bastards!"

Thordoom's picture

Another illegal invasion US is in. As the troops rolling in to " liberate" they shell stay forever to occupy.

Oldwood's picture

While most of us here are anti-war noninterventionists, my only hope with Trump is that IF he takes us to any military conflict, at least he might let us win...right, wrong or unknown. This would be a first in some 75 years, rather than simply creating conflict and them wallowing in it for decades.

Blankone's picture

The destruction IS the primary goal.  They want to destroy the civilization, infrastructure and society.

Oldwood's picture

That is happening regardless of war.

LetThemEatRand's picture

What's the definition of "winning" in Syria?  If it's ousting Assad, how did that go in Libya?  What will be left when we're done winning?  If it's not ousting Assad, what is it -- "defeating" ISIS, the group of fighters we armed to take out Assad?  There is no defeating ISIS because it is not a country.  It has no borders and can simply move to another location if we drive them out of Syria (with many fighters no doubt staying behind and awaiting US withdrawal).

Took Red Pill's picture

"Winning" is creating chaos then move in to give "humanitarian aid". Show pictures of the poor children suffering on TV so Americans demand something be done. Removed Saddam Hussein from Iraq, created chaos. Removed Rabbinni from Afghanistan, created chaos. Removed Muammar Gaddafi from Libya, created chaos. Been trying to remove Bashar al Assad from Syria to create more chaos. It's all intentional! Only they didn't plan on Putin interfering so now they demonize Russia.

shuckster's picture

Why is it the West's fault that every Muslim country is a tinder box waiting to explode?

Putrid's picture
Putrid (not verified) Oldwood Mar 10, 2017 10:48 AM


Don't you know your country's history? You guys beat Grenada loads of times.

And then there are many many ways to wage war ... boy has Wall Street ass raped the entire world, going on 70 odd years of successful ass raping.

I hear it's all going to end badly, pity I'm young.


Thordoom's picture

Somehow im missing  the "winning" here.. How on earth is this going to be a victory for US when in the first place we funded this jokers, killed this way half a million Syrians and counting, completely destroyed their country, desplaced millions of people, caused invasion of Europe and this way allowing terrorist to settle in for decades of bloodshed to come. If this is how victory looks like for US then idk how defeat does.

Putrid's picture
Putrid (not verified) Thordoom Mar 10, 2017 10:37 AM

The US is expanding the airbase at Kobani so it can receive big birds. They're also building a wall around it AND have excused Kurdish soldiers from securing the base.

It appears that Syria shall be devided, part Russian, part US. What this means for Turkey is not readily apparent; but the Kurds have oil so they matter. It appears a deal has been done.

We live in interesting times,


Blankone's picture

US ground troops are now in Manbij.  The development of the airbase in Kobani has been going on for some time.  Yes, Syria will be divided but first they will establish themselves along the water supply and oil fields.  Then they will provide cover for their ISIS agents to attack and move Russia back slowly to the western coast only and then maybe only to their naval base.  Note, Russia has had to abandon that naval base due to lack of security from rebels before.

The dye was cast when Putin was too fearful to declare and enforce a no-fly zone over Syria.  Putin's impotence will not go unnoticed on the world stage.  (or at home in Russia).  Where is the Putin fan club who claimed his inaction was playing chess or that Putin was "Gonna do something now!!!" or "Don't Poke the Bear"  that bear has been bitch slapped over and over.  Every red line the Putin club claimed cound not be crossed kept being crossed.  I expect Putin to try to save face by kissing Trump's butt and claiming the US taking Syria is some sort of joint win for him also.

Trump in short order, vows to Increase military spending, starts operations in Yemen, increase activity in Libya, troops into Kuwait, begins taking Syria, even more troops and missiles along russia's western borders, declares Iran a terrorist state sponsor, new missles to be placed in the Japan/China/Korea region, likely assasinated the heir to lead North Korea, ---  All the things Trumps supporters warned that Hillary might do with the military- Trump is doing, and quickly. 

Watch for Ukraine to heat up once Trump gains the advantage in Syria. 


HowdyDoody's picture

Tartus is not (yet) a Russian military base. It is a port where the Russian navy has refueling access. It is Syrian territory and has never been in danger of being lost to the US-funded terrorists. That is not to say these US-funded terrorist haven't launched MLRS and VBIED at civilian targets in the area.

Blankone's picture

It really does not qualify as a real naval base.  But russia has been dredging the access in prep to expand the part they control and allow their larger ships to dock.  However, Syria, from what I remember, did in the later part of last year grant Russia an extended right to their area of the port and did grant Russia soverignity of the area.  So Syria made the area Russia uses Russian soil for the number of years granted. 

Having a russian port there is somewhat imporant (in particular if it was expanded for their larger ships) due to the need otherwise to pass through the narrows to enter the Black Sea.  That passage can be shut down or made hazardous.

Putrid's picture
Putrid (not verified) Blankone Mar 10, 2017 11:21 AM

Yes, it is interesting, isn't it?

Alas, Zerohedgers are nothing but human, hoping that one man can save them. If they read Volume 1 of the philosophy of Capitalism they'd discard all false hope. It was authored by their smartest and top guys; who would know, right.

Interestingly, in the notes of all the top Americans that I read, they all used the word Doom to describe the future. They all wrote "We are Doomed" or "America is Doomed." That coincidence struck me somewhat.

Going forward, It'll be a scramble for the remaining oil and water resources. But in the background are other moves.

The crafty Chinese are attacking the base of American strength. We have everything ready here, a perfect setting for the Reset. And the Russians know this; so perhaps they're playing with this in mind.

We know there's no way the Ponzi can get past 2020; under any scenario; so why fight?

tenpanhandle's picture

They fight to get to 2020.  A ponzi only works one way and that's full speed ahead.

Kayman's picture

 "Volume 1 of the philosophy of Capitalism".  And of all the Worldly Philosophers, which book is that ?

And yes, China is so clever, they have created an economy reliant on the U.S. dollar. Do you think the Renminbi is pegged to the Ruble?

Ponzi? China is a Ponzi.

Putrid's picture
Putrid (not verified) Kayman Mar 10, 2017 2:09 PM

Bide your time; hide your abilities.

If you were Deng Xaoping in China's position; what would you have done differently? An economy Reliant on the dollar? Is that even possible? A financial system built upon the dollar would be more accurate, correct? And pray tell, I'm going to test you your intelligence now, what's the collateral for the trade debt?