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US Says 2000 Troops Are in Syria, a Fourfold Increase

US Says 2000 Troops Are in Syria, a Fourfold Increase

Separately, the Pentagon also temporarily deployed Army Rangers to northern Syria over the summer, an attempt to keep the peace as Syrian Kurdish fighters liberated cities in areas where other armed groups were loyal to nearby Turkey.

The United States has about 5,200 troops in Iraq and 2,000 in Syria, and those numbers are trending down, Pentagon officials said here today. Manning declined to say how many American troops were in Syria or Iraq at the height of urban combat operations - those in Raqqa or Mosul, for example - that required larger footprints of USA combat advisers.

"To ensure an enduring defeat of ISIL, the coalition must ensure it can not regenerate, reclaim lost ground, or plot external attacks", he said. The American-led coalition has retaken 97 percent of the territory once held by the militants, and the military is working to stabilize recently liberated areas, including the restoration of basic essential services, the removal of explosive materials and the distribution of humanitarian aid. With the liberation, fewer USA forces are needed to support Iraqi and Syrian forces kinetically. Gen. James B. Jarrard, told reporters during a news conference that there were about 4,000 US troops in Syria. "I don't want to say that's 10 years, I also don't want to say it's not", Pahon said.

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. As recently as last month the Pentagon said there were about 500 US troops in Syria.

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.

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

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Russian Federation and the Assad regime in Syria are interested in regime survival, not in defeating the terror groups that launched their hateful rule from Raqqa, the spokesman said. Mattis said last month that the United States "won't just walk away" from efforts it has made in the country, and will focus on creating safe zones for civilians as other efforts to stabilize the country continue.

Still, successive US administrations have themselves been criticized for failing to articulate a coherent plan for Syria, and the elapsed time has seen Russian and Iranian influence bloom.

America's support to the SDF has infuriated North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally Turkey, which sees the Kurdish component as "terrorists". The 1,500 or so previously undisclosed troops in Syria include traditional combat forces like infantry, artillery and forward air controllers trained to call in airstrikes, as well as support personnel, said Eric Pahon, a Pentagon spokesman.

More than 340,000 people are estimated to have been killed in the Syrian war, and millions have been displaced.

"We seek to balance informing the American public with the imperative of operational security and denying the enemy any advantage", he said.