Published: Thu, December 07, 2017
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Pentagon: About 2000 U.S. troops in Syria

Pentagon: About 2000 U.S. troops in Syria

Despite recent ISIS setbacks, the Pentagon said Tuesday that the USA military mission in Syria would continue until areas reclaimed from ISIS are stabilized, adding that U.S. troops would only withdraw when "conditions" on the ground allowed.

Figures released by Defense Manpower Data Center in November, which tracks counts of Pentagon military and civilian personnel deployed overseas each quarter, showed almost 2,000 U.S. troops in Syria and more than 9,000 in Iraq. He ordered that the Pentagon disclose new troop totals in Syria.

Pentagon spokesman Army Col. Robert Manning announced the numbers in compliance with Defense Secretary James N. Mattis' direction to give the American people a better idea of the commitment of US forces in the region.

The Pentagon first announced plans to revise the number on August 31, when they unveiled a higher troop count in Afghanistan. "We are simply revising how we internally conduct force management and publicly report the USA force commitment in Iraq and Syria", said Manning.

"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.

The new numbers exclude sensitive missions and certain types of personnel, such as security personnel attached to the USA embassy in Iraq, according to Pentagon spokesman Eric Pahon. Manning said the delay was in an effort to "get it right".

A Pentagon official said on Tuesday the U.S. military plans on staying in Syria as long as necessary to ensure the Islamic State group does not return.

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

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

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.

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

But with Syrian negotiators walking out on the UN-backed Geneva talks this week, the Pentagon offered its heaviest criticism of Russian-led military efforts in recent memory.

United States operations against IS in Iraq and Syria that began in October 2014 have cost American taxpayers almost $16 billion, according to a Pentagon inspector general report unveiled last month.

"ISIS left a minefield when they started walking out", he said. That number also is trending downward, he said, as the US -led coalition in both Iraq and Syria transition from supporting offensive combat operations against Islamic State fighters to supporting local security efforts to prevent a reemergence of IS.

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