British special forces will team up with US marines in the battle against ISIS in Syria
For the past 12 months UK Special Forces have been operating in a joint special operations unit codenamed Operation Shader.
More than 300 personnel are involved.
It is not part of an official UK mission, instead operating under US command.
Since January, SAS teams have been operating deep inside eastern Syria, with US forces using special sniper units to hunt high-value Islamic State commanders and seek out IS chemical factories.
American special forces will lead the ground assault against IS targets
Now the Coalition Joint Special Operations unit will mentor Iraqi and Kurdish forces in a major ground offensive towards Raqqa in the north.
It follows indications that the idea of establishing a safe haven in Syria was being “seriously considered” in Whitehall last night.
The 1,500 square miles area would be protected by the deployment of a Royal Navy Type-45 destroyer tasked with shooting down Syrian state helicopters.
Islamic State are known to have a strong presence in the northern Syrian city of Raqqa
The idea is to secure a 1,500 square kilometre area north-west of Aleppo, which could be used to resettle up to five million Syrians
“The idea is to secure a 1,500 square kilometre area north-west of Aleppo, which could be used to resettle up to five million Syrians.
“The region is controlled by Free Syrian Army and moderate groups, and is not near the Russian sphere of influence.
“It would require a Type-45 destroyer to be deployed off the coast of Turkey. Such a ship, HMS Defender, is due in the region shortly.”
A Royal Navy Type-45 destroyer capable of destroying enemy aircraft
Concerns as to how to administer the zone remained.
Earlier this week the Archbishop of Aleppo, Jean-Claude Jeanbart, criticised the EU for “luring Syrians away from their home country”.
He urged Brussels to work with Russia to find a solution to the five-year-old civil war.