Later today, the White House will announce a “shift” in the the U.S. policy against ISIS that will include sending a small group of special operations forces into northern Syria, according to NBC News. The reported announcement will come eight days after an American commando was killed while freeing hostages from ISIS fighters in Iraq.

From NBC News:

The senior U.S. official said that the forces will be stationed in northern Syria and working alongside groups with a proven track record of fighting ISIS. The move will be described as a “shift” but not a “change” in U.S. strategy against ISIS, the official added.

That could include Kurdish force and allied groups who have come together under the umbrella of the “Syrian Democratic Forces,” according to the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the announcement was not yet public.

The Associated Press reports that number of special forces authorized to operate in Syria will be “fewer than 50.”

After Master Sgt. Joshua Wheeler died in a raid in Iraq last week, Defense Secretary Ash Carter told the Senate Armed Services Committee that the U.S. will likely increase “direct action on the ground” to combat ISIS in Syria in Iraq.

Thirteen months before Carter’s testimony, President Obama assured troops at U.S. Central Command that the U.S. “do not and will not have a combat mission” in Syria and Iraq.

“After a decade of massive ground deployments, it is more effective to use our unique capabilities in support of partners on the ground so they can secure their own countries’ futures,” Obama said in August of last year. “And that’s the only solution that will succeed over the long term.”

Contact the author at