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

US soldier Syria Raqqa

Hussein Malla Associated Press

The Defense Department announced today there are 2,000 USA troops in Syria, after last month reporting there were only 500.

Army Col. Rob Manning told reporters that troop numbers are actually "trending downward" in Syria, with the recent departure of 400 artillery Marines.

"While the nature of U.S. support to partner forces will adjust as the coalition shifts from from major urban combat operations to stabilization tasks, United States support will not end until the enduring defeat of ISIS and will be determined by conditions on the ground", Pentagon spokesman Eric Pahon said in a written statement Tuesday outlining the USA strategy in Syria going forward.

Manning could not immediately say how many USA troops were in Syria at its peak level. Manning said this new phase presents an opportunity to refine how the department reports troop counts to the public.

The new total does not mean additional troops have been deploying to Syria. Gen. James B. Jarrard, told reporters during a news conference that there were about 4,000 USA troops in Syria.

This phase-shift will allow DoD to optimize force management practices and adapt to current Operation Inherent Resolve requirements.

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

By September, the US-backed coalition trained 8,500 SDF troops in Syria and provided vehicles and equipment to 40,000 troops in the Arab and Kurdish units.

"The YPG is armed, and as the coalition stops offensive ops, then obviously you don't need that; you need security - you need police forces".

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

Coalition efforts will also shift to ensure the terror group can not regenerate or to ensure another group doesn't try to emulate ISIS and its disgusting philosophy. 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. "The United States will sustain a "conditions-based" military presence in Syria to combat the threat of a terrorist-led insurgency, prevent the resurgence of ISIL, and to stabilize liberated areas".

Mattis said last week that the USA effort in Syria is pivoting from a military-led operation to a diplomatic-led endeavor. This includes restoring essential services, removing improvised explosive devices and booby traps and ensuring distribution of humanitarian aid.

"This will also set the conditions for internally displaced people and refugees to safely return", Pahon added.

A solution to the Syrian civil war is the best way to ensure groups like ISIS do not take advantage of the chaos and confusion to impose their ideology, the colonel said.

Russian Federation and the Assad regime in Syria are interested in regime survival, not in defeating the terror groups that launched their hateful rule from Raqqa, the spokesman said.

As troops enter a stabilization phase, U.S. officials said there will not be clear front lines as American troops support efforts to remove mines and other explosives, return displaced people to their homes and support the growth of indigenous institutions in former IS-held territory that hasn't been seized by President Bashar al-Assad - who has long called the United States presence illegitimate - or Russian and Iranian forces backing the embattled Syrian leader.

Furthermore, Russia and Syria do not "appear to be serious about the withdrawal of Iranian-backed militias" operating in Syria, Pahon said.

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