The US will be sending an unspecified number of special operations troops to Iraq to "put even more pressure" on ISIS in both Iraq and Syria, NBC News reports. "These special operators will over time be able to conduct raids, free hostages, gather intelligence, and capture [ISIS] leaders," CNN quotes Defense Secretary Ash Carter, who made the announcement Tuesday. According to NBC, the "specialized expeditionary targeting force" will work with the Iraqi government to conduct unilateral operations in Syria, though it may also conduct operations within Iraq without notifying its government first. "We are acting to defeat [ISIS] at its core," Carter says. "We're going to win." Officials say the force won't include "large numbers" of troops.
Republicans have been critical of Obama's actions against ISIS, with one GOP lawmaker calling them "lackadaisical" during Carter's announcement Tuesday, Politico reports. And Jeb Bush—while supportive of sending special operations troops to Iraq—says the move doesn't go far enough. “American special operators bring a unique suite of capabilities that make them force multipliers,” Carter says. “Where we find further opportunity to leverage such capability, we will be prepared to expand it.” He says that while the US isn't technically at war, "it has that kind of gravity." The new special operations forces being sent to Iraq are in addition to the up to 50 Obama authorized in October, according to CNN. And NBC quotes one official who says it "cracks open the door" for combat operations in Syria.