4,000 troops in Syria, US commander says then changes his mind

Press TV – A top US military official puts the number of American forces allegedly fighting Daesh Takfiri terrorists in Syria at 4,000, then immediately retracts the figure after being reminded that the official tally is way lower.

“We have approximately … I think it’s a little over 4,000 US troops in Syria right now,” US Army Major General James Jarrard told Pentagon reporters from the Iraqi capital Baghdad via satellite on Tuesday.

The chief of the US special operations task force immediately backtracked, saying, “I’m sorry, I misspoke there, there are approximately 500 troops in Syria.”

Eric Pahon, a Pentagon spokesman, also corrected the figure later.

“The general misspoke,” Pahon told The Washington Post after the briefing. “I don’t know what 4,000 refers to. That’s nowhere near an accurate number.”

“It’s widely acknowledged there are more than 503 in Syria and 5,200 in Iraq,” Pahon told The Post. “These are our force management level numbers. They don’t include temporary forces.”

According to Jarrard, there are also 5,262 troops in Iraq.

Pentagon normally has far more personnel in overseas operations than what is officially stated.

In August, the US military acknowledged that some11,000 troops are stationed in Afghanistan, thousands more than previously reported.

The US-led coalition has been conducting airstrikes against what are said to be Daesh targets inside Syria since September 2014 without any authorization from the Damascus government or a UN mandate.