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Defense chief says U.S. is expanding special operations force in Iraq

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter testifies on Tuesday before the House Armed Services Committee hearing on the U.S. strategy for Syria and Iraq.

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter testifies on Tuesday before the House Armed Services Committee hearing on the U.S. strategy for Syria and Iraq.

(Andrew Harnik / Associated Press)

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter says the U.S. is expanding its special operations force in Iraq to help Iraqi and Kurdish forces fight Islamic State militants.

Carter told the House Armed Services Committee on Tuesday that over time, these special operators will be able to conduct raids, free hostages, gather intelligence and capture Islamic State leaders. Carter says that will improve intelligence and generate more targets. He did not offer troop numbers, but said it was being done in cooperation with the Iraqi government.

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The Defense secretary says the special operators will be focused on defending Iraq’s borders and building the capacity of the Iraqi government forces.

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He says the forces also will be in a position to conduct unilateral operations into Syria.

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