Pentagon: Four times as many USA troops in Syria than previously acknowledged

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Pentagon spokesman Col. Rob Manning also said there are aboug 5,200 US troops in Iraq.

Manning announced the new official figure for American servicemembers in Syria on Wednesday, saying Defense Secretary Jim Mattis wants to increase transparency about where and how troops are deployed. Manning said the delay was in an effort to "get it right".

USA officials are refusing to put precise timelines on the new phase of the anti-IS mission.

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

Last week, the US-led coalition announced it would withdraw 400 American Marines from combat who led a monthslong artillery barrage against IS in Raqqa.

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He reiterated US support for the United Nations -led talks in Geneva peace talks.

Unlike Russia, the United States is not in Syria at the request or approval of the Damascus government. He ordered that the Pentagon disclose new troop totals in Syria. 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 US combat advisers.

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

As of today, the Pentagon says it has approximately 2,000 troops in Syria, up from the 500 figure it was touting as recently as last month.

In Syria, under Obama administration accounting practices known as Force Management Levels, the Pentagon only acknowledged 503 troops in Syria, though officials privately admitted there were significantly more forces there. It also does not include some service members who are deployed on highly sensitive missions.

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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. 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.

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.

"The troops are changing their stance as a result", he said. The US maintains two hotlines to directly de-conflict military operations with Russian Federation: one based in Kuwait to handle ground combat, and another to deal with air actions at Al-Udeid air base in Qatar.

Moscow doesn't "appear to have a plan on how to bring a meaningful conclusion to the civil war that addresses the fundamental problems that led to the rise of ISIS, nor do they appear to be serious about the withdrawal of Iranian-backed militias", Pahon said.

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