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Pentagon: Four times as many U.S. troops in Syria than previously acknowledged

07 December 2017

The Pentagon says there are about 2,000 USA troops in Syria. As recently as last month the Pentagon said there were about 500 USA troops in Syria.

It's merely a long-delayed confirmation that the troop numbers the Pentagon had been citing were inaccurate.

Manning also said Wednesday that the United States has about 5,200 troops in Iraq, essentially the same force size as the Pentagon acknowledged under Obama. Some 3,000 IS fighters remain distributed between Iraq and Syria, according to coalition estimates.

Meanwhile, the United States-led worldwide coalition fighting ISIL estimates that fewer than 3,000 fighters belonging to the militant group remain in Iraq and Syria, its spokesman said on December 5. He said he was doing so as part of a new effort by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to be transparent about how many troops are deployed in harm's way.

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Mattis also said that the United States was adjusting its support to the Syrian Democratic Forces, a mix of Kurdish and Arab troops that have led the US-backed fight against ISIS in Syria, suggesting that offensive weapons would no longer be provided to the Kurdish elements of the SDF, a change long sought by America's North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally Turkey.

Pahon said the USA troop commitment would be "conditions-based", meaning no timeline will determine any pull out.

"It's approximately 2,000 now, could be more, could be less, we don't want to showcase our capabilities to the enemy", Manning said at the Pentagon. Last week, about 400 Marines in an artillery unit - 1st Battalion, 10th Marines - that was carrying out strikes against the Islamic State in the city of Raqqa returned to the United States.

Officials said the amount of forces are declining in Syria and Iraq as operations shift away from combat and more toward train and advise, explosives cleanup, reconstruction, and maintaining security and preventing ISIS from returning.

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The U.S. military, along with other nations in a US-led coalition, began bombing IS in late 2014 but until now has largely declined to address what its role in the tangled conflict might be after the jihadists are beaten. "Their collective action call into question their commitment to deal a lasting defeat to ISIS and other extremist groups".

Manning added that Syria and Russian Federation did not offer a plan "for how to bring about a meaningful conclusion to the civil war" by addressing the future presence of terrorist groups like IS and Iran-backed Shiite militias that have flowed into the country.

Iraqi, Syrian and coalition forces will continue to capitalize on the momentum generated "and apply continuous pressure on the terrorist networks wherever they operate", Manning said. "That's local forces. That's people who make certain that ISIS doesn't come back", Mattis said, highlighting the U.S. desire to shift its focus to local forces providing stability.

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Pentagon: Four times as many U.S. troops in Syria than previously acknowledged