Friday, 15 December, 2017

Pentagon admits USA has 2000 troops in Syria

US special operations forces near Raqqa Syria US special operations forces near Raqqa Syria
Kenny Thornton | 07 December, 2017, 07:38

Asked about the discrepancy, the representative of the Pentagon Colonel Rob manning said: "We are not ready to make a statement on the number of troops, which is different from what we said earlier".

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 United States troops in Syria and more than 9,000 in Iraq.

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

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 actual number of troops has been in decline for months.

The US military said it would also continue to support its local allies, the Syrian Democratic Forces, as they move to stabilize eastern Syria following a series of military victories over ISIS.

The Obama-era policy - continued under President Trump until recently - aimed to draw down USA troops in Afghanistan and create a limited presence to defeat IS in Iraq and Syria.

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. 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. "As the terrorist group continues to lose territory, important work remains to ensure its lasting defeat", Manning said.

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"This is not an announcement of a troop increase in either Iraq or Syria".

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 ugly philosophy. With the liberation, fewer US forces are needed to support Iraqi and Syrian forces kinetically.

USA 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.

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

"Operating under recognized worldwide authorities, the USA military will continue to support local partner forces in Syria to stabilize liberated territory", Pahon said.

Moscow doesn't "appear to have a plan on how to bring a meaningful conclusion to the civil war that addresses the fundamental problems that led to the rise of ISIS, nor do they appear to be serious about the withdrawal of Iranian-backed militias", Pahon said.

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.

He said Russian Federation has done little to fight ISIS.

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