Syria fully liberated from ISIS

Putin says IS suffers 'complete defeat' in eastern Syria

Despite recent ISIS setbacks, the Pentagon said Tuesday that the USA military mission in Syria would continue until areas reclaimed from ISIS are stabilized, adding that U.S. troops would only withdraw when "conditions" on the ground allowed.

Secretary of Defense James Mattis told reporters Friday that the United States military mission in Syria was being reconfigured to better support diplomatic objectives, including the UN-led Geneva process aimed at bringing an end to the Syrian Civil War. The United States will take a "conditions-based" approach to removing its forces from Syria, he said, aiming to stabilize areas liberated from ISIS control and bolster local groups to govern as it supports United Nations-led peace talks in Geneva.

About 2,000 American troops are in Syria fighting the Islamic State, a Pentagon spokesman said on Wednesday, nearly four times the total previously disclosed as the Trump administration changes how troop numbers are publicly counted.

The United States now has approximately 2,000 troops on the ground in Syria, where they have been helping train and advise partner forces in the fight against ISIL. He ordered that the Pentagon disclose new troop totals in Syria. He said the campaign to defeat IS is now in a new phase in these countries.

ISIS has lost about 97 percent of the land it once controlled across Syria and Iraq, Manning said Wednesday, but small pockets of fighters remain in both countries.

"To ensure an enduring defeat of ISIL, the coalition must ensure it can not regenerate, reclaim lost ground, or plot external attacks", he said.

Military officials have long said that despite several high-profile ISIS defeats, military operations against the terror group would continue for some time.

Coalition forces are still needed in the two countries, Manning said, adding that they will now focus on "train, advise and assist" missions.

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