The US will send special forces into Syria to support rebel groups fighting the Islamic State, officials have revealed.

“Fewer than 50″ personnel will be deployed in the region, and will be the first time that the US has put ‘boots on the ground” in Syria.

The US special forces will be deployed in northern Syria, and will likely be supporting the Kurdish rebels as they take on the Islamic State, avoiding any direct clashes with the Assad regime. They

Previously, the US has utilized special forces in two specific raids on IS strongholds in Syria, but this will be the first time that troops will be on the ground for more long-term operations.

The tentative change in US policy is in response to a muscular intervention in the conflict by Russia in support of embattled President Bashar al-Assad. Russian President Vladimir Putin claims that Russian military air support for the Assad regime was to aid in its fights against the Islamic State, but the vast majority of Russian air strikes have targeted rebels unaffiliated with the terror group.

The move comes amid talks being held in Vienna between all sides of the Syrian conflict, for the first time including Assad’s key regional ally – Iran.

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