DoD report confirms US contractors in Syria for 1st time under Trump administration

DoD report confirms US contractors in Syria for 1st time under Trump administration
A newly released Department of Defense (DoD) report has confirmed the presence of US contractors in Syria. It appears to be the first time this has been done under the Trump administration.

The report provides Department of Defense contractor personnel numbers for the second quarter of fiscal year 2018. It includes personnel in Syria, along with those deployed to Iraq, Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR), Afghanistan, Operation Freedom’s Sentinel (OFS), and the US Central Command area of responsibility.

Syria is grouped together with Iraq, which means the exact number of contractors there remains unknown. However, the report does acknowledge that the overall numbers in the category went up by 11.7 percent “in part due to the inclusion of Syria reports in this quarter.”

There are over 11,000 contractors “supporting US government operations” in Iraq and Syria, the report states. Of those, approximately 5,508 contractors are “directly supporting DoD funded contracts.” The majority of those (19%) work in base support. The report does not indicate which companies the contractors work for.

It appears to be the first time that any such report has included Syria. The January report, for example, excluded it entirely. However, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis did state earlier this year that Washington was planning to send contractors to Syria. The Pentagon first indicated that it would be hiring military contractors for operations in Syria in a 2016 report. 

Meanwhile, it was reported earlier this month that the US military is potentially working on plans to send an additional contingent to Syria to secure a foothold in the north of the country, even as US President Donald Trump reiterates his intention to withdraw troops.

One of the places where the troops may be based is Manbij, with local Kurds saying that US soldiers had arrived to the city. Speaking to RT’s Ruptly agency, they said the number of US patrols has increased in the area. There are reportedly 2,000 US troops in Syria.

The DoD report comes as President Trump considers military action in Syria following an alleged chemical attack in Douma. He tweeted on Wednesday that Russia should “get ready” for missiles to fly towards Syria, though his administration has since maintained that no decision has been made regarding military action, stating only that “all options are on the table.”
Trump’s tweet came despite the fact that an official probe into the alleged incident by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has not yet been launched, and despite the fact that the Russian military found no trace of such an attack after traveling to Douma.

Earlier on Friday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stated that Russia has “irrefutable” data which shows that the incident was staged by a state which promotes Russophobia.

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