DOD acknowledges additional USA troops in Syria

Pentagon signals open-ended troop commitment in Syria

US military to stay in Syria 'as long as we need to': Pentagon

The Pentagon is publicly revealing that a larger number of USA troops are stationed in Syria, after helping local fighters clear most Islamic State-held areas in the war-torn country. Officially, in late November, the Pentagon figure was 502, and while that was a spurious number, the Pentagon announced over 400 US Marines were withdrawn at the end of the month.

Army Col. Rob Manning, a Pentagon spokesman, said American troops will remain in Syria for the foreseeable future, even as Islamic State nears defeat there and in Iraq, countries where the militants once controlled vast areas of land. The Pentagon has said in recent days that the troops are staying in Syria, with no timetable for ending the deployment.

United States officials are refusing to put precise timelines on the new phase of the anti-IS mission. "We will be in Syria as long as it takes to make sure that ISIS is not afforded the ability to reestablish safe havens and plan and conduct attacks".

However, he promised to be more open in terms of how many troops deployed.

Meanwhile, the United States-led global 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.

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"This is not an announcement of a troop increase in either Iraq or Syria". 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. The revised number of US troops in Iraq remained the same as was previously acknowledged, about 5,200, although Manning said the number of USA forces was also trending downward. It's not clear if that release and subsequent reports by Al-Monitor and other news outlets prompted the long-planned revision.

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. Critics say the policy masked the true extent of USA forces fighting IS and prevented the United States military from using support troops, such as mechanics and equipment maintainers in-theater, creating greater reliance on contractors. Manning said this new phase presents an opportunity to refine how the department reports troop counts to the public. The department had previously omitted forces on temporary rotation from the count, along with a number of other groups. "Their collective action call into question their commitment to deal a lasting defeat to ISIS and other extremist groups". "Nor do they appear to be serious about the withdrawal of Iranian-backed militias", said Manning.

But U.S. military operations in Syria are expected to continue.

Photo Defense Secretary Jim Mattis in October in Washington. The Pentagon hopes to recover heavy weaponry from the People's Protection Units (YPG), but the group may keep some small arms and light vehicles.

Pahon said the US troop commitment would be "conditions-based", meaning no timeline will determine any pull out. The Pentagon's budget for the new fiscal year will provide $13 billion for the operation next year, including $1.8 billion to train and equip partner forces in Iraq and Syria.

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