As Islamists continue to lose ground, the US administration reportedly fears that northern territories, where its troops have been training rebel forces, will fall to the Syrian government.
The United States plans to keep a military presence in Kurdish-dominated northern Syria after defeating Islamists to establish independent governance, US officials told the Washington Post on Wednesday.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, US officials said that an open-ended US presence would help stabilize communities under a local government, after US Defense Secretary James Mattis said last week they would not walk away until conditions were created for a diplomatic solution.
Rival Syrian forces are due to meet in Geneva on November 28 for the eighth round of UN-backed peace talks aimed at ending the six-year war in Syria. US troops have been assisting the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces based in the north.
According to US-based media reports, Maj. Gen. James Jarrard, head of the US special operations task force against Daesh said during a video briefing from Baghdad in October that nearly 4,000 US forces were on the ground in Syria. However, Jarrard has instantly corrected himself, stating there were only 503 US service members in Syria.
In addition, US Marine Corps Maj. Adrian Rankine-Galloway, public affairs officer at the Office for the Secretary of Defense has told Sputnik that due to counting procedures, though, “some personnel are not counted in the Force Level Management number,” including contractors, service members on temporary duty personnel assigned to “DoD combat support agencies,” and military personnel “supporting other US agencies, or in certain sensitive missions.”
Damascus has repeatedly called the US presence in Syria an “invasion” as it has been approved neither by the legitimate government nor by the UN Security Council.