US special forces playing key targeting role in IS fight: Carter

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Paris (AFP)

US special forces are directly engaged in pinpointing targets and launching raids against the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq, Defence Secretary Ashton Carter said Thursday.

"These forces have already established contact with new forces that share our goals, (opening) new lines of communication to local, motivated and capable fighters, and new targets for air strikes and strikes of all kinds," Carter told an audience at the Ecole Militaire, a training school for French officers in Paris.

The US has called on allies, including France and Britain, to contribute special forces as a key part of their effort to bolster coalition forces fighting the jihadist group.

None provide precise figures on how many of their special forces are operating in the region, but it has become increasingly clear that elite Western troops are providing more than training, and shifting towards more of a frontline role.

In Iraq, "we now have a specialised expeditionary targeting force in place that is preparing to work with the Iraqis to begin mounting sudden, long-range raids, going after ISIL's fighters and commanders, killing or capturing them wherever we find them, along with other key targets," Carter said.

The defence secretary was in Paris for a meeting on Wednesday of seven counterparts from key countries in the anti-IS coalition.