President Trump gives Pentagon more flexibility on troops in Iraq and Syria

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U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to the Major Cities Chiefs Association (MCCA) (Photo by Chris Kleponis-Pool/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON — The White House is giving the Pentagon greater flexibility to determine the number of U.S. troops in Iraq and Syria, in another move by President Donald Trump to shift greater power to his military leaders.

The decision will give Defense Secretary James Mattis the authority to send more forces into Syria, to assist U.S.-backed Syrian troops as they move to retake Raqqa from the Islamic State group, which has used the city as a de facto capital.

It will also let him adjust the force numbers in Iraq, in the ongoing fight to oust IS from Mosul and stabilize it as the rebuilding begins.

The Pentagon has already been making quiet, incremental additions to the troop levels in both countries in recent months.

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