Pentagon revises U.S. troops numbers in Syria and Iraq

Pentagon revises U.S. troops numbers in Syria and Iraq

Manning said Wednesday that it took weeks for the Pentagon to release the new official number because military officials wanted to make sure that it was right.

Despite recent ISIS setbacks, the Pentagon said Tuesday that the U.S. military mission in Syria would continue until areas reclaimed from ISIS are stabilized, adding that United States troops would only withdraw when "conditions" on the ground allowed.

The United States now has approximately 2,000 troops on the ground in Syria, where they have been helping train and advise partner forces in the fight against ISIL.

The figure reflects an order by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to revise how the Pentagon accounted for deployed personnel carrying out major operations in Iraq and Syria.

Meanwhile, the United States-led global coalition fighting ISIL estimates that fewer than 3,000 fighters belonging to the militant group remain in Iraq and Syria, its spokesman said on December 5.

The actual number of troops has been in decline for months.

The US-led anti-ISIS military coalition announced Monday that coalition warplanes had conducted 28 airstrikes against ISIS targets near Abu Kamal, Syria, since Friday, striking ISIS tactical units, vehicles and heavy weapons.

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"The Syrian regime and Russian federation's actions have thus far demonstrated that countering [IS] and other violent extremist groups like [Jabhat Fatah al-Sham] and al-Qaeda is not their foremost priority", Manning said.

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.

US military personnel will also continue to support local forces in Syria to stabilize liberated territory.

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.

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.

He reiterated USA support for the United Nations -led talks in Geneva peace talks. "That's local forces. That's people who make certain that ISIS doesn't come back", Mattis said, highlighting the United States desire to shift its focus to local forces providing stability. "Nor do they appear to be serious about the withdrawal of Iranian-backed militias".

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