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Defense Secretary Ash Carter greets troops at Qayyarah Airfield West, Iraq, on Dec. 11. Defense Department photo by TSgt. Brigitte N. Brantley

​The US is building up its presence inside Syria, sending 200 more special operations troops to continue assisting in the advance to ISIS’s self-proclaimed capital. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said he requested the additional troops as part of a new phase in the fight, focused on expelling ISIS from Raqqa. The troops “play a vital role in helping to identify, build, and then enable the force that will expel ISIL from Raqqa and be a critical part of destroying ISIL here in Iraq and Syria, which we must do and which we will do,” Carter said Sunday during a briefing at Qayyarah West Airfield in Iraq. There are already about 300 troops inside Syria embedded with Syrian Democratic Forces advancing on the capital. US troops had also been embedded with Turkish forces.