President Donald Trump defended his decision to withdraw U.S. forces from Syria in a bizarre Twitter video on Wednesday, going so far as to point to the sky and invoke the memories of fallen service members to support his decision.
“I’ve been president for almost two years and we’ve really stepped it up,” Trump said of U.S. operations in Syria. “And we have won against ISIS.”
Trump explained that he becomes “very saddened” when speaking with the next of kin of fallen American soldiers. “It’s a great honor, we cherish them, but it’s heartbreaking,” he said.
Watch the video below:
After historic victories against ISIS, it’s time to bring our great young people home! pic.twitter.com/xoNjFzQFTp
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 19, 2018
The video is largely just Trump repeating his dubious claim of having defeated ISIS, but one line has drawn harsh criticism for the president.
“And I’ll tell you, they’re up there looking down on us and there is nobody happier or more proud of their families to put them in a position where they’ve done such good for so many people,” Trump said while pointing to the sky.
“We won, and that’s the way we want it,” Trump said of the decision to bring the troops home. “And that’s the way they want it,” he added, pointing skyward once more.
Trump’s decision to use the deaths of American service members to support his decision didn’t sit right with some on social media. The video sparked a fierce backlash.
MSNBC’s Chris Hayes called it “more than a little strange.”
It is more than a little strange speak definitively about the desires and policy views of US servcicemembers who have died fighting in Syria and Iraq. https://t.co/QPIPE0TgN4
— Chris Hayes (@chrislhayes) December 19, 2018
It's a bit disordered, as everything Trump says is, but he definitely speaks for "soldiers who've been killed," who are "looking down on us," and they're apparently all for Trump's immediate, complete, unplanned troop withdrawal.
Chew on that. https://t.co/8LQqqY74u6
— Brian Beutler (@brianbeutler) December 20, 2018
Trump claiming that dead American soldiers support his decision to cut and run from Syria is wrong on so many levels, especially as he flitters away the things they sacrificed for. https://t.co/IfLjUkkGqz
— Josh Rogin (@joshrogin) December 20, 2018
Trump’s decision to declare victory over ISIS and withdraw from the region has drawn sharp criticism from some U.S. lawmakers and strategic allies.
The Syrian Democratic Forces and the Kurdish YPG called the decision a “blatant betrayal” in a statement, according to The Guardian. “The war against Islamic State has not ended and Islamic State has not been defeated,” they said.
The SDF also warned that the newly announced U.S. exit from Syria could “create a political and military vacuum in the area, leaving its people between the claws of hostile parties.”