The Corner

White House

Er, No, Mr. President, the United States Still Has Forces in Syria

President Donald Trump speaks to reporters at the White House, September 9, 2019. (Erin Scott/Reuters)

A note to add to Michael Brendan Dougherty’s excellent column on the home page, arguing that “Trump’s rhetoric about ending stupid and wasteful wars in the Middle East is not matched by the reality of policy.” In fact, it is fair to argue that Trump’s rhetoric about U.S. forces in the Middle East is not matched by reality, period.

Thursday on the White House lawn, Trump told reporters, “we have no soldiers in Syria. We’ve won. We’ve beat ISIS.  And we’ve beat them badly and decisively. We have no soldiers.”

Just today, the Department of Defense put out a statement about secretary of defense Mark Esper and Turkish Minister of National Defense Hulusi Akar speaking by phone Thursday, where Esper, “reiterated his strong concern that, despite U.S. force protection measures, Turkey’s actions could harm U.S. personnel in Syria.”

Tuesday, chief Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Rath Hoffman, declared, “we have moved the U.S. forces in northern Syria out of the path of potential Turkish incursion to ensure their safety. We have made no changes to our force presence in Syria at this time.”

The U.S. special forces member who spoke to Fox News’ Jennifer Griffin is characterized as one of “the 1,000 or so U.S. troops who remain in Syria.”

Either the president is not being honest about the presence of U.S. soldiers in Syria, he’s blurring the line between his desired goal and current conditions, or he is . . . unaware of where our troops are. None of those options are reassuring.

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