PENTAGON - The Pentagon says there are roughly 2,000 U.S. troops in Syria, quadruple the number U.S. officials had acknowledged until now.
The figure reflects an order by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to revise how the Pentagon accounted for deployed personnel carrying out major operations in Iraq and Syria. The new number does not mean additional troops have been deployed to the volatile country, but it does show the large inaccuracy of previous figures.
'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.
Manning noted that troop numbers in Syria are 'trending downward.' The revised number of U.S. troops in Iraq remained the same as was previously acknowledged, about 5,200, although Manning said the number of U.S. forces was also trending downward.
'We hope that trend continues,' he said.
The new numbers exclude sensitive missions and certain types of personnel, such as security personnel attached to the U.S. embassy in Iraq, according to Pentagon spokesman Eric Pahon.
The Department of Defense provided a similar revision for troop numbers in Afghanistan in August, changing the acknowledged number of troops from about 8,400 to 11,000.