Pentagon admits US has 2,000 troops in Syria

Pentagon admits US has 2,000 troops in Syria
The US has 2,000 troops in Syria and 5,200 in Iraq, the Pentagon announced on Wednesday, casting doubt over the numbers officially announced last month.
2 min read
06 December, 2017
The new total does not mean additional troops have been deploying to Syria [AFP]
A Pentagon announcement on Wednesday revealed that the US has 2,000 troops in Syria – four times as many as officials had previously publicly acknowledged.

The new total does not mean additional troops have been deploying to Syria.

It's merely a long-delayed confirmation that the troop numbers the Pentagon had been citing were inaccurate.

Pentagon spokesman Army Colonel Rob Manning, who announced the new number, said that troop numbers are now declining in Syria.

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

Last month, the US said there were only 503 US troops in Syria and 5,262 US troops in Iraq.

US troops are known to be training and providing support to the Arab-Kurdish fighters of the Syrian Democratic Forces, who have been battling the Islamic State group in northern and eastern Syria.

Now that the militants have been cleared from all but a few pockets of territory, the US is assessing its future presence in the civil war-torn nation.

A Pentagon official said on Tuesday the US military plans on staying in Syria as long as necessary to ensure the Islamic State group does not return.

"We are going to maintain our commitment on the ground as long as we need to – to support our partners and prevent the return of terrorist groups," Pentagon spokesman Eric Pahon told AFP.

Pahon said the US troop commitment would be "conditions-based," meaning no timeline will determine any pull out.

"To ensure an enduring defeat of ISIS, the coalition must ensure it cannot regenerate, reclaim lost ground or plot external attacks," he said. 

"The United States will sustain a 'conditions-based' military presence in Syria to combat the threat of a terrorist-led insurgency, prevent the resurgence of ISIS, and to stabilise liberated areas."

Agencies contributed to this report