In the days following a failed U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, President Joe Biden generally avoided answering tough questions from the media.
He did agree to an ABC News interview on Wednesday, though it was packed with dishonest and disingenuous assertions — including, as Fox News reported, his claim that the U.S. has no military presence in Syria.
“An over-the-horizon capability”
In reality, former President Barack Obama deployed troops to that nation in 2014 — when Biden was serving as vice president — to battle ISIS in the region, Fox noted. Media reports indicate nearly 1,000 American service members remain there today to carry out essentially the same mission to which they were assigned seven years ago.
During the interview, host George Stephanopoulos raised the possibility of al-Qaida terrorists re-establishing a presence in Afghanistan following the recent troop withdrawal and Taliban uprising.
In response, the president said that terrorist groups like al-Qaida and ISIS “metastasize,” asserting that the U.S. currently faces “a significantly greater threat” from Syria and East Africa than Afghanistan.
“And we have maintained the ability to have an over-the-horizon capability to take them out,” Biden continued. “We don’t have military in Syria to make sure that we’re going to be protected.”
Critics call Biden out
A number of pundits took to social media to expose the falsehood.
👀 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
As president, Biden should have a keen understanding of where U.S. troops are stationed as well as the missions they are carrying out. Instead, his remarks on Wednesday appear to reflect one of three possibilities: he forgot that troops have been in Syria since 2014, he is not up to date on deployments, or he knew troops were in that country and lied to the American people.
“That’s something that we’ll continue”
Of course, it is hardly a secret that the U.S. military maintains a presence in Syria. As Politico reported less than a month ago, roughly 900 personnel — including Army Green Berets and other special operations forces — remained stationed there even as troops were being withdrawn from Afghanistan.
One unnamed senior administration official told the outlet at the time: “In Syria, we’re supporting Syrian Democratic Forces in their fight against ISIS. That’s been quite successful, and that’s something that we’ll continue.”
Unless the president has been kept in the dark by Pentagon officials, one can presume that he knows about the ongoing mission in Syria. As for whether he forgot about it or intentionally sought to mislead Americans during his recent interview, neither scenario should be acceptable from the commander in chief.