The Pentagon said the new public estimate still does not account for all USA troops in Iraq and Syria. US forces in Syria and Iraq are "trending downward", he added, without specifying whether the 2,000 troops in Syria included the 400 Marine artillerymen that the Pentagon announced last week would soon leave the country.
Now that it's the first week of December, that official figure has shot up to 2,000, even though no new troops were deployed, and indeed over 400 had just left.
The Pentagon's new public numbers reflect an approximation of deployed troops as of Wednesday, Manning said.
"Operating under recognized global authorities, the USA military will continue to support local partner forces in Syria to stabilize liberated territory", Pahon said. Needless to say, it's expected this 2,000 level is closer to true than the 502. With the self-described Islamic State (IS) caliphate nearly 97% gone, according to the Defense Department, those forces will now assist local groups, such as the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and the Raqqa Internal Security Force (RISF), as they seek to stabilize the country.
A Pentagon official said on Tuesday the USA military plans on staying in Syria as long as necessary to ensure the Islamic State group does not return.
"This is not an announcement of a troop increase in either Iraq or Syria".
The revision changes long-held procedures to account for troops at the Pentagon. Manning said this new phase presents an opportunity to refine how the department reports troop counts to the public.
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"We will be in Syria as long as it takes to make sure ISIS does not have the ability to reestablish safe havens... and plan and conduct attacks", said Manning, including that the 78-member USA -led anti-ISIS coalition is committed to the effort.
The U.S. military, along with other nations in a US-led coalition, began bombing IS in late 2014 but until now has largely declined to address what its role in the tangled conflict might be after the jihadists are beaten. "Their collective actions call into question their commitment to dealing a lasting defeat to [IS] and other extremist groups".
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.
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 move bitterly angered US commanders, who saw it as giving the Taliban a countdown on when they could resume operations in earnest.
Unlike Russia, the United States is not in Syria at the request or approval of the Damascus government.
Photo Defense Secretary Jim Mattis in October in Washington. The Pentagon's budget for the new fiscal year will provide $13 billion for the operation next year, including $1.8 billion to train and equip partner forces in Iraq and Syria.