A senior US military commander in the operation against ISIS in Syria got slightly confused when asked about the exact number of US troops in Syria.
During his press briefing on Tuesday, James Jarrard a US Army major general, got in a muddle over a simple question from a journalist regarding the scale of the US presence in Syria. He needed a colleague from the Pentagon to intervene.
RT reports: At first, Jarrard said that there are 5,000 US troops in the region, but immediately corrected himself, lowering the figure to 4,000.
“I think it’s a little over 4,000 US troops in Syria right now that are supporting efforts against Daesh [IS], and supporting the SDF [Syrian Democratic Forces],” he told Pentagon reporters in response to a question about the number of American troops in the region.
Wow. Question on how many US troops are in Syria. MG initially says 4,000 (!) then apologizes, changes to 500 after a follow-up. pic.twitter.com/ru92GkU3PW
— Jake Godin (@JakeGodin) October 31, 2017
The figure provided was several times bigger than the official data, which stunned the journalist and forced the general to apologize. He said his original answer had been a ‘slip of the tongue’ when he was asked to confirm the figure.
“I’m sorry. I misspoke there. There are approximately 500 troops in Syria,” the military official said, prompting laughter from some journalists in the room. His Pentagon colleague, who was hosting the briefing, had to clarify the numbers, confirming that that there are some 503 troops in Syria and 5,262 in Iraq.
The matter came up again during the briefing, as another journalist repeated the same question “for the sake of the record.” This time, Jarrard said that there are 503 coalition forces in Syria and said that he did not have the number for Iraq “on the top” of this head.