French special forces in Syria advising rebels – Official

SHAFAQNA – France has deployed its special forces on the ground in northern Syria to advise rebels and help them fight the so-called Islamic State, a French Defense Ministry official has revealed to AFP.

“The offensive at Manbij is clearly being backed by a certain number of states including France. It’s the usual support – it’s advisory,” the official told the agency.

Until now, France admitted the presence of some 150 special forces in the region, all of them in Iraqi Kurdistan.

Manbij is a key strategic town under the so-called Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) control in northern Syria. It’s a waypoint between the Turkish border and the IS-held Raqqa.

The latest comment isn’t the first hint at France’s presence in Syria: last Friday, Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told the Public Senat TV channel that Paris was “providing support through weapons supplies, air presence and advice.

“France isn’t the only Western country in Syria: about two weeks ago, footage emerged of US special forces fighting alongside Kurdish militia near the city of Raqqa, a month after Obama said some 250 troops would be deployed in the region.

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