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WASHINGTON (AP) — A senior U.S. official says a couple hundred Marines have deployed into Syria with heavy artillery guns, as part of the ongoing preparation for the fight to oust the Islamic State group from its self-declared headquarters of Raqqa.

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The deployment is temporary. But it is likely an early indication that the White House is leaning toward giving the Pentagon greater flexibility to make routine combat decisions in the IS fight. Military commanders frustrated by what they considered micromanagement under the previous administration have argued for greater freedom to make daily decisions on how best to fight the enemy.

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The official says the Marines moving into Syria are pre-positioning howitzers to be ready to assist local Syrian forces. The official was not authorized to discuss the deployment publicly, so spoke anonymously.

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