US forces drive a Humvee as they patrol the roads surrounding the northern Syrian city of Manbij, March 3, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

DAMASCUS, SYRIA (1:00 PM) – The US military has finally admitted that the real number of US troops that have been illegally deployed to Syrian soil, is in fact far higher than previously stated.

Pentagon spokesman Colonel Rob Manning announced on Wednesday that the United States in fact maintains a force of 2,000 soldiers within Syria, nearly four times more than the 503 troops that had previously been stated in official communication. However, Manning stated that the US is taking a “conditions-based” approach dedicated to gradually reducing this number in the future.

Only last month, the Pentagon reiterated the claim that the total count of US military personnel was 503, although research by the Defense Manpower Data Center (DMDC) claimed the number was at least 1,702. The DMDC also claimed that 8,992 US soldiers are still stationed in Iraq, which is also far more than the official Pentagon number of 5,262.

The US claims it will gradually reduce its forces in Syria as soon as areas are “stabilized” and so-called local forces, which usually refers to the Kurdish-majority Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), can take over control.

However, the government of the Syrian Arab Republic has repeatedly accused the United States of plotting to partition the country, for example by attempting to split the SDF-controlled areas from Syria.

The US military presence in Syria has not been allowed by the Syrian government, nor has it received a mandate by the United Nations. As such, any military presence by the United States on Syrian soil is in fact illegal according to international law.

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Historian specialized in Arab history, Islamic studies and geopolitical analysis. Based in Belgium.

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