Pentagon Revises Troop Numbers to 2000 in Syria; 5200 in Iraq

2011 shows the Pentagon building in Washington DC. AFP

This happened after the data were published, which differ significantly from official estimates. The U.S. military had as recently as November said the official troop count in Syria was 503.

U.S. Army Col. Robert Manning, spokesman for the Pentagon, said the numbers comply with Defense Secretary James Mattis' push to provide American people with an understanding of U.S. forces' commitment to supporting the region.

However, he promised to be more open in terms of how many troops deployed.

"We hope that trend continues", he said. As part of that effort, the Pentagon announced in August it had about 3,000 more troops in Afghanistan than acknowledged under then-President Barack Obama.

Manning also said on Wednesday there are about 5,200 US troops in Iraq - a number that remains unchanged from past reports - but said that it is also shrinking.

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.

"To ensure an enduring defeat of ISIS, the coalition must ensure it can not regenerate, reclaim lost ground or plot external attacks", he said.

A Pentagon official said on Tuesday the USA military plans on staying in Syria as long as necessary to ensure the Islamic State group does not return.

Operations in both countries are shifting as the terrorist group shrinks, said Eric Pahon, another Pentagon spokesman.

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

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