U.S. special operations troops have reportedly taken over an airfield in northeastern Syria, potentially clearing the way to flow more American military support to friendly militias fighting the Islamic State group.
A small team of U.S. troops is setting up a base camp at Rmeilan Air Base in the Syrian Kurdish region near Syria's Iraqi and Turkish borders, according to local reports.
American helicopters operated at the base over the past couple of weeks as local workers expanded the runway, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The airfield was until recently under control of the Syrian Kurdish forces, known as the YPG, but was turned over to the U.S. to help expand American support for the Syrian Democratic Forces, which is the loose-knit coalition of American-backed militants fighting the Islamic State group.
The airfield is in the Hasakah region, where American-backed militias have been mounting offensive operations against Islamic State-held territory northeast of the extremist group's stronghold in Raqqa.
It is also near a key supply line connecting Raqqa to the Islamic State group's second major city, Mosul, Iraq. Cutting that supply line is a key piece of the current American strategy for defeating the group.
This would have been a whole lot easier if the country's political leaders hadn't simply abandoned Iraq in the first place.