US Says 2000 Troops Are in Syria, a Fourfold Increase

US Says 2000 Troops Are in Syria, a Fourfold Increase

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.

"In implementing this change, we seek to balance informing the American public with the imperative of operational security and denying the enemy any advantage", Pentagon spokesman Army Colonel Robert Manning said Wednesday.

The Pentagon declined to say why it took three months longer to disclose more accurate troop counts for Iraq and Syria than Afghanistan.

"We hope that trend continues", he said.

The United States now has approximately 2,000 troops on the ground in Syria, where they have been helping train and advise Kurdish and Arab partner forces in the fight against IS. "We are simply revising how we internally conduct force management and publicly report the USA force commitment in Iraq and Syria", said Manning.

This phase-shift will allow DoD to optimize force management practices and adapt to current Operation Inherent Resolve requirements.

But with Syrian negotiators walking out on the UN-backed Geneva talks this week, the Pentagon offered its heaviest criticism of Russian-led military efforts in recent memory.

By September, the US-backed coalition trained 8,500 SDF troops in Syria and provided vehicles and equipment to 40,000 troops in the Arab and Kurdish units.

Coalition forces are still needed in the two countries, but they will focus now on the train, advise and assist mission. Manning said the delay was in an effort to "get it right".

"Important work remains to ensure lasting defeat" of ISIS, 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 ISIL, and to stabilize liberated areas".

"Operating under recognized global authorities, the US military will continue to support local partner forces in Syria to stabilize liberated territory", Pahon said. This includes restoring essential services, removing improvised explosive devices and booby traps and ensuring distribution of humanitarian aid.

"This will also set the conditions for internally displaced people and refugees to safely return", Pahon added. "That's local forces. That's people who make certain that ISIS doesn't come back", Mattis said, highlighting the USA desire to shift its focus to local forces providing stability.

"They also do not appear to have a plan for how to bring a meaningful conclusion to the civil war that addresses the fundamental problems that led to the rise of ISIS".

Iraqi, Syrian and coalition forces will continue to capitalize on the momentum generated "and apply continuous pressure on the terrorist networks wherever they operate", Manning said.