US President Trump has given the Pentagon authority to independently set troop levels in Iraq and Syria, and to ensure commanders’ flexibility. Over 5,000 troops are deployed in Iraq, and 500 in Syria, where they operate without Damascus’ invitation.
“The President has delegated the authority for Force Management Levels (FML) for Iraq and Syria to the [Defense] Secretary [James Mattis],” said Captain Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, as cited by ABC.
He also said that no change has been made at this stage to the number of US troops in the Middle East, adding that the current military strategy involves rendering support to local militias fighting Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL).
The move does not mean that the numbers of troops in Iraq and Syria will change “nor does it change the process by which we will manage those forces,” said Davis.