AP Fact Check: Trump Muddles Facts on US Syria Withdrawal - NBC Connecticut
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President Donald Trump

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AP Fact Check: Trump Muddles Facts on US Syria Withdrawal

Despite what Trump suggests, American forces in Syria won't be returning home in mass numbers anytime soon

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Trump Clashes With Dems During Syria Meeting

    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi walked out of a meeting with President Donald Trump after Trump had what Democrats described as a meltdown. The meeting took place after the House voted to condemn Trump's unilateral decision to pull U.S. troops out of Syria. (Published Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019)

    President Donald Trump muddled the facts Wednesday on America's withdrawal from Syria and the conditions on the ground there, as he distanced himself and the U.S. from the ongoing Turkish invasion into Syria.

    He suggested incorrectly that the Syrian Kurds who fought alongside U.S. forces against the Islamic State group deliberately released ISIS prisoners and wrongly said Americans have been in the Syria conflict for 10 years.

    A look at his claims and the reality:

    U.S. INTERVENTION IN SYRIA

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    [NATL] Hong Kong Leader Says No Compromise as Protest Violence Escalates

    Hong Kong’s government is refusing to compromise after one pro-democracy protester was shot and another set on fire in a rare weekday protest. The five-month protest has seen a steady rise in violence, with both pro-democracy protesters and the Hong Kong government refusing to give ground.

    (Published Monday, Nov. 11, 2019)

    TRUMP: "We were supposed to be in Syria for one month. That was 10 years ago."

    THE FACTS: Previous administrations never set a one-month timeline for U.S. involvement in Syria.

    The U.S.-led coalition began airstrikes on Islamic State militants in Syria in September 2014. About a year later, the Pentagon said that teams of special operations forces began going into Syria to conduct raids and start up efforts to partner with the Kurdish forces. Then-Defense Secretary Ash Carter made it clear to Congress at that time that the Pentagon was ready to expand operations with the Kurds and would continue to do so as needed to battle IS, without setting a specific timeline for completion.

    Ivanka Trump: Whistleblower Identity Not Relevant

    [NATL] Ivanka Trump: Whistleblower Identity Not Relevant

    Senior White House adviser Ivanka Trump told The Associated Press that the whistleblower's identity is "not particularly relevant." She also criticized former Vice President Joe Biden, saying that he made money after public service.

    (Published Friday, Nov. 8, 2019)

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    PRISON RELEASE

    TRUMP: Speaking about ISIS detainees, Trump said: "People let some go. They opened a couple of doors to make us look as bad as possible." Later he described the ISIS detainees as "people that probably the Kurds let go to make a little bit stronger political impact."

    Kent Testimony: Trump Actions "Injurious To The Rule Of Law"

    [NATL] Kent Testimony: Trump Actions "Injurious To The Rule Of Law"

    Transcript of key State Department official's testimony reveals more damaging evidence against President Trump.

    (Published Thursday, Nov. 7, 2019)

    THE FACTS: That's an exaggeration. There is no evidence that Kurdish forces, who fought ISIS for years with U.S. and coalition troops, deliberately opened prison doors to let militants out.

    According to U.S. and defense officials, fewer than 100 prisoners have escaped and Kurdish fighters are still guarding the prisons. Officials say that some of the Kurdish forces have moved north to fight the invading Turks, but many remain to secure the prisons, which hold about 2,000 foreign fighters and another 10,000 Iraqis and Syrians who fought with ISIS. Officials spoke on condition of anonymity to describe ongoing military operations.

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    First Transcripts in Impeachment Inquiry Released

    [NATL] Impeachment Inquiry: Yovanovitch, McKingly Transcripts Released

    House Democrats on Monday released the written record of testimony from two witnesses who say they were caught up in the Trump administration's efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate the president's political rivals. Those witnesses: former top State Department official Michael McKinley and former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch. NBC's Alice Barr reports.

    (Published Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019)

    LEAVING SYRIA

    TRUMP: "Our soldiers are mostly gone from the area."

    THE FACTS: They're actually mostly still there.

    Roger Stone Trial Begins

    [NATL] Roger Stone Trial Begins

    Roger Stone’s trial begins as he walked into federal court this Tuesday morning. Stone is accused of lying to congress and pressuring another person to lie as well.

    (Published Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019)

    Trump is correct that close to 30 U.S. troops moved out of two outposts near the border area where the Turkish attack was initially centered. But the bulk of the roughly 1,000 U.S. troops deployed to Syria are still in the country.

    According to officials, most of the U.S. troops have largely been consolidated into two locations in the north, including an airfield facility in the western part of the country known as the Kobani landing zone. A small number of troops left in recent days with military equipment, and more recently the withdrawal of forces began but so far not in large numbers. Officials say the withdrawal will take weeks.

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    COMING HOME

    TRUMP: "It's time to bring our soldiers back home."

    THE FACTS: Despite what Trump suggests, American forces in Syria won't be returning home in mass numbers anytime soon.

    While the U.S. has begun what the Pentagon calls a deliberate withdrawal of troops from Syria, Trump himself has said that the 200-300 U.S. forces deployed to a southern Syria outpost in Al-Tanf will remain there. Also, while the U.S. forces are leaving Syria, that doesn't mean they are automatically coming home. Instead, military officials are developing plans to station U.S. forces in nearby locations, including Iraq and possibly Jordan, where they will still be able to monitor and, if needed, continue to conduct operations against ISIS.