The commander of the US-led special operations task force responsible for defeating ISIS on October 30 said more than 4,000 US troops were in Syria, then quickly retracted the figure when it was pointed out the Pentagon officially insists only 503 troops are deployed on the ground there.
“We have approximately … I think it’s a little over 4,000 US troops in Syria right now” supporting efforts against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria,” US Army Major General James Jarrard told Pentagon reporters from Baghdad via satellite, The Hill reported.
When asked to confirm the number, Jarrard quickly corrected himself: “I’m sorry, I misspoke there, there are approximately 500 troops in Syria.”
It’s fair to assume that there are more US soldiers stationed in Syria and Iraq than the Pentagon officially admits. Due to troop caps set by the Obama administration, the public troop count is kept artificially lower by moving forces around in the region and using specific personnel accounting methods.
In April of 2017, the US President Donald Trump claimed that the US is “not going into Syria”, although the US had already had a military presence in the country since early 2016 to train and advise Kurdish and Arab rebel forces fighting ISIS in northern and eastern Syria.
Back in March, the US stepped up its deployment of troops to Syria to 900 soldiers and Marines, with a temporal authority to exceed the formal troop cap of 503, planning to deploy up to 1,000 more troops into northern Syria.