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Pentagon Admits to Four Times as Many US Troops in Syria

Pentagon Admits to Four Times as Many US Troops in Syria

The U.S. military had as recently as November said the official troop count in Syria was 503. As recently as last month the Pentagon said there were about 500 US troops in Syria.

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.

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. Needless to say, it's expected this 2,000 level is closer to true than the 502.

USA troops are known to be training and providing support to the Arab-Kurdish fighters of the Syrian Democratic Forces, who have been battling the Islamic State group in northern and eastern Syria. Manning said this new phase presents an opportunity to refine how the department reports troop counts to the public.

The us military has promised to provide more information about the number of troops deployed outside the United States.

"Important work remains to ensure lasting defeat" of ISIS, he said.

"We are going to maintain our commitment on the ground as long as we need to - to support our partners and prevent the return of terrorist groups", Pentagon spokesman Eric Pahon said.

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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.

The Defense Department did not immediately clarify how those forces were accounted for or how U.S. troops would be positioned throughout the country during the stabilization effort, which will proceed as the Trump administration backs UN-led talks to decide the political future of Syria.

Unlike Russia, the United States is not in Syria at the request or approval of the Damascus government. The US maintains two hotlines to directly de-conflict military operations with Russian Federation: one based in Kuwait to handle ground combat, and another to deal with air actions at Al-Udeid air base in Qatar.

Photo Defense Secretary Jim Mattis in October in Washington.

He said Russian Federation has done little to fight ISIS. Mattis said last month that the United States "won't just walk away" from efforts it has made in the country, and will focus on creating safe zones for civilians as other efforts to stabilize the country continue.

"Current estimates are that there are less than 3,000 #Daesh fighters left - they still remain a threat, but we will continue to support our partner forces to defeat them", U.S. Army Colonel Ryan Dillon tweeted, using an Arabic acronym for ISIL.


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