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Pentagon Revises Troop Numbers to 2000 in Syria; 5200 in Iraq

07 December 2017, 07:07 | Taylor George

The Pentagon says there are about 2,000 US troops in Syria.

The Defense Department under Secretary Jim Mattis had promised to provide more accurate estimates of US troops stationed overseas.

The new total does not mean additional troops have been deploying to Syria.

Army Col. Rob Manning, a Pentagon spokesman, disclosed the number in a gathering with journalists.

Manning noted that troop counts in both countries are "trending downward" as the conflict against ISIS takes on a "new phase", with the extremist group holding less than three percent of the territory it once controlled in both countries.

"The campaign to defeat ISIS is now in a new phase in Iraq and Syria", Manning said.

United Nations -backed peace talks are ongoing in Geneva, and Pahon said the USA continues to support these as the "only path to a legitimate political resolution to the conflict".

The new numbers exclude sensitive missions and certain types of personnel, such as security personnel attached to the US embassy in Iraq, according to Pentagon spokesman Eric Pahon. As part of that effort, the Pentagon announced in August it had about 3,000 more troops in Afghanistan than acknowledged under then-President Barack Obama.

"That's where we are now", Manning said.

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According to the quarterly report of data Center of military resources of the Pentagon, as of September 30, 15298, the U.S. military was in Afghanistan, 8892 in 1720 in Iraq and Syria.

"To ensure an enduring defeat of ISIL, the coalition must ensure it can not regenerate, reclaim lost ground, or plot external attacks", he said. Manning said the United States presence in Syria is "conditions-based" to ensure that IS can't reclaim lost ground or plot attacks in the West.

Officially, the us military is number 503 in Syria and 5262 in Iraq.

Unlike Russia, the United States is not in Syria at the request or approval of the Damascus government.

The disclosure comes about five weeks after a senior USA military officer, Army Maj.

Moscow doesn't "appear to have a plan on how to bring a meaningful conclusion to the civil war that addresses the fundamental problems that led to the rise of ISIS, nor do they appear to be serious about the withdrawal of Iranian-backed militias", Pahon said.

Mattis said last week that the US effort in Syria is pivoting from a military-led operation to a diplomatic-led endeavor.

Though the RISF and SDF are still in place, US Defense Secretary James Mattis during a trip to the Middle East last week indicated that the Pentagon would draw down support for Kurdish-backed units that led the fight against IS. "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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