General's slip highlights U.S. troop numbers in Syria

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Pentagon spokesman Eric Pahon claimed the 4,000 figure was "totally wrong", saying he saw the classified number, and it is "way less" than what Jarrard said. Gen. James Jarrard, head of the United States special operations task force against Daesh, said 4,000 U.S. forces were on the ground in Syria, Stars and Stripes reports.

When pressed on the issue, Jarrard backtracked.

The Pentagon loves lying about troop levels in its major wars, and that's been particularly true in Iraq and Syria, where after being called out for underreporting several times they officially decided they were going to stop telling the public troop levels at all.

"I'm sorry. I misspoke there".

"It's a little over 4,000 USA troops in Syria right now that are supporting efforts...against Daesh, and supporting the SDF [Syrian Democratic Forces]", he said in response to a question about the number of US troops in the region.

But that number is not accurate either.

"I think it's a little over 4,000 USA troops in Syria right now that are supporting efforts against Daesh [IS], and supporting the SDF [Syrian Democratic Forces]", he told Pentagon reporters in response to a question about the number of American troops in the region.

And in Iraq, the official U.S. presence is 5,262 - but again officials acknowledge a bigger footprint.

A senior U.S. military commander in the operation against the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS, ISIL) in Iraq and Syria, James Jarrard, got into a muddle when asked about the exact number of USA troops in Syria.

Under President Donald Trump, battlefield commanders have been given greater flexibility to flow troops across the region, making it harder to track figures.

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