The updated figure does not reflect troops assigned to classified missions and some Special Operations personnel, Mr. Pahon said. The number also does not include combat aircrews flying from bases outside Iraq and Syria, nor from Navy aircraft carriers at sea.
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Mr. Mattis directed the Pentagon months ago to revise how it accounts for deployed personnel fighting the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. The Pentagon also announced revised troop numbers in Afghanistan in August, acknowledging publicly for the first time that about 11,000 troops were deployed there.
The numbers of American service members in Syria rose after a decision by President Trump in March to allow subordinate military commanders set the levels of troops they needed. But Colonel Manning said the number of troops in Syria “are generally trending downward,” and noted that an artillery battalion of 400 Marines deployed near Raqqa, the capital of the Islamic State’s self-declared caliphate, had recently returned to the United States.
Colonel Manning said troop numbers would continue to decline as the American-led coalition transitioned to missions to train and advise local forces.
The Pentagon also announced Wednesday that about 5,200 American troops are serving in Iraq. Colonel Manning said that total did not constitute a troop increase, but rather was a result of the change in the way troop numbers were accounted for and disclosed.
About 3,000 Islamic State fighters remain in Syria, mainly in a strip of land along the Euphrates River Valley south of Deir al-Zour, according to military estimates provided by Mr. Pahon.