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Pentagon: US committed to Syria until ISIS areas stabilized

07 December 2017

The Defense Department on Wednesday acknowledged that the US has roughly 2,000 troops on the ground in Syria, four times more than what officials had claimed just a month ago.

The Defense Department under Secretary Jim Mattis had promised to provide more accurate estimates of US troops stationed overseas.

Iraqi forces and the Syrian Democratic Forces have liberated about 97 percent of the people and land that the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria once claimed as the new caliphate, he said.

"The campaign to defeat ISIS is now in a new phase in Iraq and Syria", Col. Robert Manning, a Pentagon spokesman, said, using an acronym for the Islamic State.

The Pentagon first announced plans to revise the number on August 31, when they unveiled a higher troop count in Afghanistan.

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

The new numbers exclude sensitive missions and certain types of personnel, such as security personnel attached to the USA embassy in Iraq, according to Pentagon spokesman Eric Pahon. Manning said the delay was in an effort to "get it right".

According to the quarterly report of data Center of military resources of the Pentagon, as of September 30, 15298, the USA military was in Afghanistan, 8892 in 1720 in Iraq and Syria.

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"To ensure an enduring defeat of ISIS, the coalition must ensure it can not regenerate, reclaim lost ground or plot external attacks", he said. Manning said the USA presence in Syria is "conditions-based" to ensure that IS can't reclaim lost ground or plot attacks in the West.

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 deal a lasting defeat to ISIS and other extremist groups", the colonel said.

U.S. operations against IS in Iraq and Syria that began in October 2014 have cost American taxpayers almost $16 billion, according to a Pentagon inspector general report unveiled last month.

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

Secretary of Defense James Mattis told reporters Friday that the USA military mission in Syria was being reconfigured to better support diplomatic objectives, including the UN-led Geneva process aimed at bringing an end to the Syrian Civil War.

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.

"ISIS left a minefield when they started walking out", he said.

Pentagon: US committed to Syria until ISIS areas stabilized