US Says 2000 Troops Are in Syria, a Fourfold Increase

US Says 2000 Troops Are in Syria, a Fourfold Increase

The U.S. military plans on staying in Syria as long as necessary to ensure the Islamic State group does not return, a Pentagon official told AFP on Tuesday, as the fight against the jihadists winds down.

Mattis also said that the USA was adjusting its support to the Syrian Democratic Forces, a mix of Kurdish and Arab troops that have led the US-backed fight against ISIS in Syria, suggesting that offensive weapons would no longer be provided to the Kurdish elements of the SDF, a change long sought by America's North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally Turkey. "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".

Manning also said there are about 5,200 USA troops in Iraq.

"We are going to be in Syria for some time yet". He said he was doing so as part of a new effort by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to be transparent about how many troops are deployed in harm's way.

Pentagon officials in August, for example, acknowledged that there are about 11,000 US troops now serving in Afghanistan - well above the 8,400 forces previously reported. It's not clear if that release and subsequent reports by Al-Monitor and other news outlets prompted the long-planned revision.

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

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"Current estimates are that there are less than 3,000 #Daesh fighters left - they still remain a threat, but we will continue to support our partner forces to defeat them", U.S. Army Colonel Ryan Dillon tweeted, using an Arabic acronym for ISIL. "Their collective actions call into question their commitment to dealing a lasting defeat to [IS] and other extremist groups".

Unlike Russia, the United States is not in Syria at the request or approval of the Damascus government. An example of this was the withdrawal of a Marine artillery unit from Syria last week.

Manning added that Syria and Russian Federation did not offer a plan "for how to bring about a meaningful conclusion to the civil war" by addressing the future presence of terrorist groups like IS and Iran-backed Shiite militias that have flowed into the country. The Arab-dominated RISF that was stood up to stabilize Raqqa is 1,600 members strong and recently graduated 500 new members, coalition spokesman Col. Ryan Dillon said at an August briefing. The city once served as the de facto capital of the militant movement, but fell to the US -led military coalition and its local partners in October.

"As the coalition stops offensive (operations), then, obviously, you don't need that, you need security - you need police forces".

U.S. 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.

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