France has deployed its special forces on the ground in northern Syria to advise rebels and help them fight Islamic State, a French Defense Ministry official has revealed to AFP. “The offensive at Manbij is clearly being backed by a certain number of states including France. It’s the usual support – it’s advisory,” the official told the agency.

Until now, France admitted the presence of some 150 special forces in the region, all of them in Iraqi Kurdistan. Manbij is a key strategic town under Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) control in northern Syria. It’s a waypoint between the Turkish border and the IS-held Raqqa. READ MORE