Pentagon admits United States has 2000 troops in Syria

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Photo Defense Secretary Jim Mattis in October in Washington.

"The campaign to defeat ISIS is now in a new phase in Iraq and Syria", Col. Robert Manning, a Pentagon spokesman, said, using an acronym for the Islamic State.

The US military has increased the number of troops in Syria from 500 to 2,000, the Pentagon says, adding that the "conditions-based" military presence is justified by the need to "stabilize" liberated areas.

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Pahon says United States troops are going to stay to "support our partners and prevent the return of terrorist groups", both goals which, one must note, are absolutely open-ended, and unlikely to ever be declared "accomplished".

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

Prominent British militants such as Mohammed Emwazi, known as Jihadi John, and Sally Jones, have been reportedly killed by British or US forces since travelling to fight for Islamic State.

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British fighters who had fled to other countries would also be found and stopped from returning to the United Kingdom, he said, adding that there would be no "safe space" overseas for them either.

"To ensure an enduring defeat of ISIS, the coalition must ensure it can not regenerate, reclaim lost ground or plot external attacks", he said. USA advisers are primarily focused on operations to remove thousands of improvised explosive devices and other threats left behind by the terrorists so locals can safely return to their homes.

The U.S. troops are also focused on training local police forces, ensuring humanitarian aid can flow into areas where it is needed and ensuring local governance where U.S. -backed forces liberated land from ISIS, he said.

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