Up to 600 US troops could remain in Syria, Milley says

Russian Mercenaries Describe Their Defeat In Syria

Between 500 and 600 U.S. troops are expected to remain in Syria when all is said and done, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Mark Milley said on Sunday.

Milley's comments on ABC News' "This Week" indicate the U.S. military's footprint in Syria will end up being roughly half the size it was before Turkey invaded Kurdish-held northeast Syria last month.

"There will be less than 1,000 [troops]; for sure, and probably in the 500-ish frame – maybe 600 – but it's in that area," Milley told Martha Raddatz during an interview. "But we're not going to go into specific numbers because we're still going through the analysis right now."

Defense Secretary Mark Esper initially announced on Oct. 13 that most U.S. troops would leave Syria after the Turkish military and their Arab proxies pushed further into Kurdish territory than initially expected. But after President Donald Trump announced that the United States would secure Syrian oil fields, the U.S. military dispatched Bradley fighting vehicles around Deir ez-Zor – the site of a 2018 battle between Russian mercenaries and U.S. forces.

Despite the president's repeated comments about the need to protect Syrian oil fields, Pentagon officials insist the reason why U.S. troops are staying in Syria is to continue fighting ISIS.

Milley did not discuss securing the oil fields during his interview on Sunday.

"There are still ISIS fighters in the region and unless pressure is maintained, unless the tension is maintained on the group, then there's a very real possibility the conditions could be set for a reemergence of ISIS," Milley told Raddatz.

"We are committed to doing that," he continued. "The footprint will be small but the objective will remain the same: The enduring defeat of ISIS."

Two Air Force pararescue Airmen were awarded the Silver Star Medal on Friday for saving dozens of lives during separate Afghan battles in 2018 and 2019.

Tech Sgt. Gavin Fisher and Staff Sgt. Daniel Swensen both received the third highest military award for their bravery. Fisher also received the Purple Heart for wounds received in combat.

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Chinese President Xi Jinping reviews the honor guards of the Chinese People's Liberation (PLA) Navy before boarding the destroyer Xining for the naval parade celebrating the 70th founding anniversary of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy in Qingdao, Shandong province, China April 23, 2019. Xinhua via REUTERS

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. government covertly moved to expel two officials from the Chinese embassy earlier this year, after they drove onto a military base, the New York Times reported, citing anonymous sources familiar with the matter.

The newspaper reported on Sunday that one of the two Chinese officials is believed to be an intelligence officer operating under diplomatic cover.

The Chinese officials breached security at a base in Virginia this fall, and only stopped driving after fire trucks were used to block their path, the Times said.

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Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on Business Insider.

President Donald Trump is set to announce the withdrawal of roughly 4,000 US troops from Afghanistan as early as next week, NBC News reported on Saturday based on conversations with three current and former officials.

This would come as the US is engaged in ongoing, troubled peace talks with the Taliban. The talks resumed in early December after Trump abruptly scrapped negotiations with the Taliban in September, only to be paused again this week after an attack near Bagram Airfield on Wednesday.

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Photo: National Archives

Thomas Hoke can still recall the weather in December 1944, and the long days that followed.

The battle started on Dec. 16, but his company arrived Dec. 27 and would stay there until the battle's end, nearly a month later. By the time he arrived, snow had blanketed Germany in what was one of the biggest storms the country had seen in years.

"It was 20 below and a heavy fog encompassed the whole area," Hoke, 96, recalled from his Emmitsburg home.

The fog was to Germany's advantage because Allied aircraft were grounded, including recognizance flights, allowing the Nazis to slip in.

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West Point is investigating a hand gesture made by several cadets and midshipmen during an ESPN pre-game broadcast at the Army-Navy game Saturday after clips of the signals went viral because of their association with white power.

"West Point is looking into the matter," a spokesperson said in an emailed statement. "At this time we do not know the intent of the cadets."

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