After Pullouts, New Deployments, US Troop Levels in Syria Close to Unchanged

US continues surge of troops to take Syria's oil

With an estimated 1,000 US troops in Syria, the Trump Administration started a “pullout” related to the Turkish invasion of the northeast. At the time, there was talk the US might leave about 200 troops in Syria overall.

Then President Trump started talking about taking Syria’s oil, and US troops, tanks, and other armored vehicles started surging back in. As October comes to an end, there are an estimated 900 troops in Syria, meaning troop levels didn’t change all that much from where they started.

President Trump is continuing to send more troops into the oil-producing areas, and lawmakers are continuing to condemn the Syria pullout which never happened. US involvement in Syria looks like it’s going to continue with a slightly different narrative.

This underscores the momentum that US military presences tend to have, with a political firestorm around a largely mythical pullout, the US angering the Iraqi government by sending a bunch of troops there without permission, only to send more troops into Syria. This boils down to a very problematic troop rotation, with little of consequence.

US troop levels were not even widely reported on Syria going into this flurry of moves, with troop levels in Iraq and Syria both “classified” by the Trump Administration. Beyond that, the Pentagon has been less and less transparent with ongoing military operations.

Some analysts are trying to present this as Trump backing down from the unpopular drawdown, though ultimately US troops are still out of Syria’s safe zone, and pouring into oil producing areas, meaning the US traded one war for another.


Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.