The troops, mostly special forces, are being called “advise, assist, and accompany” forces, and are said to be there primarily to call in US airstrikes, while not being formally classified as “combat” forces. It’s clear, however, that the small fraction of Raqqa held by the US-backed forces aren’t enough for there to really be “non-combat” areas.
Officials have made tangential references to US troops being inside Raqqa before, of course, and only last week Centcom issued a statement claiming that US and Kurdish forces breached the wall to Raqqa’s Old City, aiming to route around ISIS’ heaviest defensive forces.
The US has been building up in the area around the outskirts of Raqqa for months, and is expected to continue to do so, with many of the US troops there to shell the city and the surrounding countryside. The myth that US troops are strictly “non-combat,” however, is losing credibility all the time.