President Obama has authorized sending "less than 50" special operations forces to work in Syria with "local opposition" forces to "train, advise and assist" them in their fight against the Islamic State, a White House spokesman confirmed on Friday.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the troops would not serve in combat roles, but admitted that they could find themselves in harm's way, like Army Master Sgt. Joshua Wheeler, who perished during a special operations forces raid in Iraq last week.

"They do not have a combat mission; they have a training, advise and assist role," Earnest said. "They will not be charging to take a hill."

They will be in the "vicinity offering advice and assistance," and therefore could be in danger, Earnest said. But they will "not be leading the charge."

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