This article originally appeared at The Daily Mail.
U.S. Special Forces fighting side-by-side with the Kurds in Syria are now just 18 miles from ISIS’ de facto capital, Raqqa.
American soldiers were seen at an outpost in Fatisah alongside Kurdish soldiers, with some even seen wearing the badges of the Kurdish People’s Protection Unit (YPG).
Fatisah is around 30 miles from Raqqa, but the Daily Beast claimed American forces were now just 18 miles from the ISIS stronghold.
The Pentagon and the White House have previously insisted that Special Forces are only in Syria to train and assist forces fighting against ISIS, but pictures suggest U.S. soldiers have a more active role than that.
The photographs emerged on Wednesday, less than 24 hours after Fatisah was purged of ISIS militants, so the Americans cannot have been far from the battle.
Despite this, Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook insisted Special Forces soldiers ‘are not at the front line’.
Cook refused to say where U.S. soldiers were at this time, but senior military officials said the troops were moving with Syrian rebel forces as they headed toward Raqqa.
A source added that it was possible the soldiers were closer to the front line of battle than they had been before.
There are at least 50 Special Forces soldiers in Syria, with President Obama authorizing a maximum of 250 to enter the country to join the ‘advise and assist mission’.