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

"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.

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

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

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.

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Manning also said on Wednesday there are about 5,200 US troops in Iraq - a number that remains unchanged from past reports - but said that it is also shrinking.

ISIS has lost about 97 percent of the land it once controlled across Syria and Iraq, Manning said Wednesday, but small pockets of fighters remain in both countries. The department had previously omitted forces on temporary rotation from the count, along with a number of other groups.

The military's "conditions-based" phrase to define troop commitments is in part a reaction to the administration of Barack Obama, which insisted on a calendar-based withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan.

Manning noted that troop numbers in Syria are "trending downward".

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Last week the Pentagon announced that 400 Marines who had been providing artillery support for the offensive on the former ISIS capital city of Raqqa would return to the U.S. These 400 Marines are not included in the 2,000 troop count.

"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 United States will take a "conditions-based" approach to removing its forces from Syria, he said, aiming to stabilize areas liberated from ISIS control and bolster local groups to govern as it supports United Nations-led peace talks in Geneva.

The U.S. troops are also focused on training local police forces, ensuring humanitarian aid can flow into areas where it is needed and ensuring local governance where U.S. -backed forces liberated land from ISIS, he said. "Their collective action call into question their commitment to deal a lasting defeat to ISIS and other extremist groups".

He said Russian Federation has done little to fight ISIS.

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"They also do not appear to have a plan for how to bring a meaningful conclusion to the civil war that addresses the fundamental problems that led to the rise of ISIS".

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