These visits were completed in cooperation with the Syrian Defense Forces (SDF), which has worked with the United States for many years in the region to eradicate any ISIS fighters.
A defense official who is directly familiar with the plan told CNN that the United States views medical visits as part of its efforts to work with the Self-Defense Forces to bring stability to the region, so the Islamic State cannot dominate. In total, there are about 900 US troops in Syria.
U.S. officials emphasized that medical work is led by the Self-Defense Forces and the U.S. military works under them. However, given that Islamic State, Russia and regime forces sometimes operate in the area, security remains a sensitive issue. All U.S. forces provide their own security guarantees.
Major Charles Ann, spokesperson for the Levant Special Operations Joint Task Force, which provides troops to the United States, said that US special operations personnel participated in two medical visits to Deir ez-Zor in northeastern Syria in November.
In recent years, extensive fighting has taken place in the area. According to Ann, the troops checked and treated nearly 200 patients at the hospital site and helped distribute medical supplies.
Since Deir ez-Zor has basically only emergency services after years of conflict, local residents have been spending several hours visiting the nearest healthcare provider.
According to Ann, there have been seven doctor visits so far last year, including two last month.
Although U.S. special operations forces have long been performing humanitarian relief missions in conflict areas and underserved communities, the Pentagon has been reconsidering the use of force after its withdrawal from Afghanistan when Syria’s efforts emerged.
This summer, all special operations activities in Syria, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Egypt were consolidated under a renamed headquarters, now known as the Levant Special Operations Joint Task Force. Lieutenant Colonel Tony Hoffler, a spokesperson for the US Special Operations Command, said that the rename is to recognize that terrorist and violent extremist organizations operate in a wide range of areas and require a more regional approach.
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