BEIRUT, LEBANON (5:20 P.M.) – The U.S. troop occupation of sovereign Syrian soil in the northeast has been well-known since the Obama administration, yet U.S. President Joe Biden claimed in a Wednesday night ABC News interview with George Stephanopoulos that there is no U.S. military presence in Syria.
Biden’s comments came in an interview focusing on Afghanistan, where the administration is on the defensive over the botched evacuation efforts centered at Kabul international airport.
His assertion on Syria came while he defended his Afghan withdrawal policy, saying: “Al Qaeda, ISIS, they metastasize. There’s a significantly greater threat to the United States from Syria. There’s a significantly greater threat from East Africa. There’s significant greater threat to other places in the world than it is from the mountains of Afghanistan.”
That’s when he made the claim: “We don’t have military in Syria to make sure that we’re gonna be protected.” It appears he was suggesting that U.S. forces in Afghanistan are needed elsewhere in places where the United States faces greater “threats” – such as in Syria, according to his words.
👀 Biden incorrectly says the U.S. has no troops in Syria. We have 900 in Syria, more than a third of what we had in #Afghanistan.
The Commander-in-Chief should know this. pic.twitter.com/lDwhjWPsfU
— John Cooper (@thejcoop) August 19, 2021
Officially the Pentagon has long maintained that about 900 soldiers are occupying Syria’s northeast, specifically where the bulk of the country’s oil and gas resources are. Likely there are more, given also this doesn’t include U.S. defense contractors and intelligence personnel.
Ostensibly U.S. defense officials say American presence is focused on the ‘counter-ISIS’ mission, yet it’s also clearly part of the ongoing economic war on Damascus, and to ensure vital resources are kept from the government.
Biden’s surprising Syria comments this week further suggest his administration has no plans to pull U.S. forces from their occupation of Syria, also given he’s currently under fire politically from both Republicans and Democrats over how the Afghanistan exit is being handled.