Not only are additional American boots on the ground present in Syria, but news has come that a U.S. air base has been established in northeast Syria as well. Plans are afoot to take the strategic city of Mosul, Iraq, which the forces of the Islamic State seized in 2015. The air base figures as an important strategic asset, according to experts on special operations. However, military units (not special forces) are reportedly being deployed to Syria, adding fuel to speculation of a beefier U.S. military presence in the region.
Syrian sources are saying that an air base in Rmeilan, in Hasakeh province, is being retrofitted for military purposes, having been used in the past for crop-dusting airplanes. Media reports say that almost 100 U.S. personnel are working alongside Kurdish People’s Protection Units to widen the tarmack and refurbish the infrastructure. It is believed that the base will be used by both fixed wing and rotary aircraft. It is now more than 7,000 feet long and can be used by cargo planes to deliver equipment, ammunition and troops.
The Pentagon dismissed the claims. U.S. Central Command spokesman Col Pat Ryder said “There has been no change to the size of mission of the US presence in Syria.” He added, “That being said, US forces in Syria are consistently looking at ways to increase efficiency for logistics and personnel recovery support.”
It is believed that American forces have been working at the Rmeilan air base for more than three months. And it was at the end of October 2015 that President Barack Obama ordered the deployment of 50 special operations troops to Syria to advise groups fighting against the Islamic State. At least one American special operator has been known to be killed in an advisory capacity in the fighting.