U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter says a key Persian Gulf ally has agreed to send special forces soldiers to Syria to assist in the development of local Sunni Arab fighters focused on recapturing Raqqa, the Islamic State group's capital.

Carter made the comment after meeting Friday at his Brussels hotel with his counterpart from the United Arab Emirates.

Carter declined to say how many Emirati special forces would go to Syria. He said they would be part of an effort led by the United States and bolstered by Saudi special forces to train and enable local Arab fighters who are motivated to recapture Raqqa.

The U.S. war plan for fighting the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq is designed to unseat the extremists in Raqqa and Mosul, which is the group's main stronghold in northern Iraq.