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.
How many U.S. ground troops are in Syria? With the self-described Islamic State (IS) caliphate nearly 97% gone, according to the Defense Department, those forces will now assist local groups, such as the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and the Raqqa Internal Security Force (RISF), as they seek to stabilize the country.
About 2,000 American troops are in Syria fighting the Islamic State, a Pentagon spokesman said on Wednesday, nearly four times the total previously disclosed as the Trump administration changes how troop numbers are publicly counted.
The us military has promised to provide more information about the number of troops deployed outside the United States.
"In implementing this change, we seek to balance informing the American public with the imperative of operational security and denying the enemy any advantage", Pentagon spokesman Army Colonel Robert Manning said Wednesday.
Manning also said there were approximately 5,200 USA troops in Iraq.
"That's where we are now", Manning said.
"To ensure an enduring defeat of ISIS, the coalition must ensure it can not regenerate, reclaim lost ground or plot external attacks", he said. "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".
"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 told AFP.
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.
"This is not an announcement of a troop increase in either Iraq or Syria". 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. Speaking in California this weekend, White House national security adviser H.R. McMaster said that as much as 80% of pro-Assad forces in Syria are proxy forces controlled by Iran.
Washington has cited Article 51 of a United Nations charter allowing for self-defense of partner forces as legal justification for its military engagement, and that will remain the case going forward.
"ISIS left a minefield when they started walking out", he said.
Russia has claimed its presence is primarily to thwart jihadist groups but the Pentagon says only a tiny portion of Russian strikes have targeted IS.
"We hope that trend continues", he said.
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