Pentagon spokesman Army Colonel Rob Manning, who announced the new number, said that troop numbers are now declining in Syria.
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. He ordered that the Pentagon disclose new troop totals in Syria.
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. "We are simply revising how we internally conduct force management and publicly report the USA force commitment in Iraq and Syria", said Manning.
Manning could not immediately say how many US troops were in Syria at its peak level.
The new numbers exclude sensitive missions and certain types of personnel, such as security personnel attached to the US embassy in Iraq, according to Pentagon spokesman Eric Pahon. "As the terrorist group continues to lose territory, important work remains to ensure its lasting defeat", Manning said. "We will be in Syria as long as it takes to make sure that ISIS is not afforded the ability to reestablish safe havens and plan and conduct attacks".
According to the quarterly report of data Center of military resources of the Pentagon, as of September 30, 15298, the United States military was in Afghanistan, 8892 in 1720 in Iraq and Syria.
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.
Secretary of Defense James Mattis told reporters Friday that the United States 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. "Nor do they appear to be serious about the withdrawal of Iranian-backed militias". About 3 percent of Syria remained under Islamic State control. "If a major shift occurs, then we'll come back out with a new, official number".
Despite recent reports suggesting that USA 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. "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.
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