Pentagon: US committed to Syria until ISIS areas stabilized

Cheryl Sanders
December 7, 2017

The United States has about 5,200 troops in Iraq and 2,000 in Syria, and those numbers are trending down, Pentagon officials said here today. He said he was doing so as part of a new effort by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to be transparent about how many troops are deployed in harm's way.

The Pentagon said the new public estimate still does not account for all US troops in Iraq and Syria.

"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 US defense Department said that soon will provide information about the exact number of American troops stationed overseas, reports Voice of America.

The US military said it would also continue to support its local allies, the Syrian Democratic Forces, as they move to stabilize eastern Syria following a series of military victories over ISIS.

"We seek to inform the American public with the imperative of operational security and denying the enemy any advantage", Manning said.

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.

Pentagon officials in August, for example, acknowledged that there are about 11,000 USA troops now serving in Afghanistan - well above the 8,400 forces previously reported.

"That's where we are now", Manning 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.

ISIS has lost about 97 percent of the land it once controlled across Syria and Iraq, Manning said Wednesday, but small pockets of fighters remain in both countries. With the liberation, fewer US forces are needed to support Iraqi and Syrian forces kinetically.

Coalition efforts will also shift to ensure the terror group can not regenerate or to ensure another group doesn't try to emulate ISIS and its disgusting philosophy. The city once served as the de facto capital of the militant movement, but fell to the US -led military coalition and its local partners in October.

"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".

United States 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. "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.

Despite recent reports suggesting that U.S. support for the SDF would be curtailed, Pahon said the United States would work with the SDF and other local forces on the ground to transition to a "sustainable, self-sufficient, ethnically diverse local security forces", while also promoting "inclusive governance" that is representative of local communities liberated from ISIS rule.

Other reports by iNewsToday