Trump salutes remains of 4 Americans killed in Syria attack

4 weeks 19 hours 34 minutes ago Saturday, January 19 2019 Jan 19, 2019 Saturday, January 19, 2019 2:12:13 PM CST January 19, 2019 in News
By: The Associated Press

DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. (AP) — A solemn procession. A long salute. A chaplain's prayer.

President Donald Trump traveled to Delaware's Dover Air Force Base on Saturday to pay his respects to the returning remains of four Americans who were killed this week in a suicide bomb attack in Syria.

The bombing, which was the deadliest assault on U.S. troops in Syria since American forces moved into the country in 2015, came as Trump prepares to pull U.S. troops out of Syria.

The president stood solemnly and saluted the remains of civilian Scott A. Wirtz of St. Louis, Missouri, as his body was carried from a C-17 military aircraft into a waiting van.

Wirtz and the three other Americans were killed in a suicide bombing Wednesday in the northern Syrian town of Manbij. He had been assigned to the Defense Intelligence Agency as an operations support specialist.

The three other transfers were to be conducted privately, with the president observing. He also spent time with the families of those killed.

Trump told reporters as he left the White House on Saturday that meeting the relatives of the country's fallen heroes "might be the toughest thing" he has to do as president.

The trip was not listed on the president's public schedule that was released Friday night, but he tweeted the news in the morning.

"Will be leaving for Dover to be with the families of 4 very special people who lost their lives in service to our Country!" he wrote. He later told reporters: "When I'm going to meet relatives of some of our great, great heroes that have fallen, I think it might be the toughest thing I have to do as president."

The visit came during a budget fight that has consumed Washington for the past month, shuttering parts of the federal government and leaving hundreds of thousands of workers without pay. Raising the stakes in his dispute with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., the president on Thursday abruptly canceled her military flight, hours before she and a congressional delegation were to depart for Afghanistan on a previously undisclosed visit to U.S. troops.

Trump planned a Saturday afternoon announcement that was expected to outline a deal the White House hopes might pave the way for the shutdown's end.

Trump has made one other visit to Dover during his presidency, soon after taking office. On Feb. 1, 2017, Trump honored the returning remains of a U.S. Navy SEAL killed in a raid in Yemen. Chief Special Warfare Operator William "Ryan" Owens, a 36-year-old from Peoria, Illinois, was the first known U.S. combat casualty since Trump became president.

In a Dec. 19 tweet announcing the withdrawal from Syria, Trump said, "We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency." He said the troops would begin coming home "now." That plan triggered immediate pushback from military leaders and led to the resignation of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.

Over the past month, Trump and others have appeared to adjust the timeline, and U.S. officials have suggested it will likely take several months to safely withdraw American forces from Syria.

A leading U.S. voice on foreign policy, Sen. Lindsey Graham, said during a visit Saturday to Turkey that an American withdrawal from Syria that had not been thought through would lead to "chaos" and "an Iraq on steroids." Graham, R-S.C., urged Trump not to get out without a plan and said the goal of destroying Islamic State militants in Syria had not yet been accomplished.

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for Wednesday's attack in Manbij, which killed 19 people, including the four Americans.

Trump said before arriving in Dover that IS has lost almost all its territory but "that doesn't mean you're not going to have somebody around." He also said "we can be pulling back but we've been hitting ISIS very hard over the last three weeks ... and it's moving along very well."

Manbij is the main town on the westernmost edge of Syrian territory held by the U.S.-backed Syrian Kurds, running along the border with Turkey. Mixed Kurdish-Arab Syrian forces liberated Manbij from IS in 2016 with help from the U.S.-led coalition.

But Kurdish control of the town infuriated Turkey, which views the main U.S. Kurdish ally, the YPG militia, as "terrorists" linked to Kurdish insurgents on its own soil.

Trump reinforced his withdrawal decision during a meeting with about a half-dozen GOP senators late Wednesday at the White House.

Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, who was at the meeting, told reporters on a conference call that the president remained "steadfast" in his decision not to stay in Syria, or Afghanistan, "forever." But the senator did not disclose the latest thinking on the withdrawal timeline.

Paul said Trump told the group, "We're not going to continue the way we've done it."

More News

Grid
List
COLUMBIA - One man received minor injuries after a fire truck overturned while responding to a call early Sunday morning.... More >>
2 hours ago Sunday, February 17 2019 Feb 17, 2019 Sunday, February 17, 2019 6:49:00 AM CST February 17, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - It's been 50 years since a historic moment occurred on MU's campus Community members met Saturday... More >>
11 hours ago Saturday, February 16 2019 Feb 16, 2019 Saturday, February 16, 2019 10:41:00 PM CST February 16, 2019 in News
OXFORD, MISS. - The Missouri Tigers fell short in Saturday's game against Mississippi, losing 75-65. The Tigers made the... More >>
11 hours ago Saturday, February 16 2019 Feb 16, 2019 Saturday, February 16, 2019 10:03:00 PM CST February 16, 2019 in Sports
COLUMBIA - City plow crews are continuing to clear snow covered streets as they prepare for more winter weather overnight.... More >>
12 hours ago Saturday, February 16 2019 Feb 16, 2019 Saturday, February 16, 2019 9:08:00 PM CST February 16, 2019 in News
STURGEON - A judge ordered the city of Sturgeon to reinstate Greg Halderman as its police chief, according to court... More >>
16 hours ago Saturday, February 16 2019 Feb 16, 2019 Saturday, February 16, 2019 5:05:00 PM CST February 16, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - One person is dead after a pair of crashes Saturday afternoon. Jordan E. Hoyt, 37, died after... More >>
17 hours ago Saturday, February 16 2019 Feb 16, 2019 Saturday, February 16, 2019 4:29:00 PM CST February 16, 2019 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - Gov. Mike Parson and First Lady Teresa opened up the grounds of the Governor's Mansion on Saturday... More >>
17 hours ago Saturday, February 16 2019 Feb 16, 2019 Saturday, February 16, 2019 4:13:00 PM CST February 16, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA – Money raised at the 14 th annual Rootin’ Tootin’ Chili Cookoff on Saturday afternoon will benefit the Columbia... More >>
18 hours ago Saturday, February 16 2019 Feb 16, 2019 Saturday, February 16, 2019 3:42:00 PM CST February 16, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - Even with slick sidewalks and snowy roads, runners still showed up for Mizzou's Rockin' Against Multiple Sclerosis 5K... More >>
18 hours ago Saturday, February 16 2019 Feb 16, 2019 Saturday, February 16, 2019 2:54:00 PM CST February 16, 2019 in News
(CNN) -- Sixty-three more people have been infected with salmonella linked to raw turkey products in an outbreak that began... More >>
21 hours ago Saturday, February 16 2019 Feb 16, 2019 Saturday, February 16, 2019 12:27:00 PM CST February 16, 2019 in News
VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis has defrocked former U.S. Cardinal Theodore McCarrick after Vatican officials found him guilty of... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, February 16 2019 Feb 16, 2019 Saturday, February 16, 2019 7:25:00 AM CST February 16, 2019 in News
SARCOXIE, Mo. (AP) — The Jasper County prosecutor on Thursday charged a 23-year-old English teacher at Sarcoxie High School with... More >>
1 day ago Friday, February 15 2019 Feb 15, 2019 Friday, February 15, 2019 9:56:18 PM CST February 15, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - Battle High School's Girls Wrestling team will make history by competing in the first high school girls state... More >>
1 day ago Friday, February 15 2019 Feb 15, 2019 Friday, February 15, 2019 8:56:00 PM CST February 15, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - The first snow system has come to an end and two more are on the way in less... More >>
1 day ago Friday, February 15 2019 Feb 15, 2019 Friday, February 15, 2019 8:25:00 PM CST February 15, 2019 in Weather
COLUMBIA - Despite the treacherous conditions, some people have no choice but to drive in weather like Friday's. "My... More >>
1 day ago Friday, February 15 2019 Feb 15, 2019 Friday, February 15, 2019 6:48:00 PM CST February 15, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA — The Humane Society of Missouri rescued 21 dogs and 21 cats from a property in western Missouri Friday.... More >>
1 day ago Friday, February 15 2019 Feb 15, 2019 Friday, February 15, 2019 5:42:00 PM CST February 15, 2019 in News
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Another winter blast hit Missouri Friday, causing multiple accidents, closing schools and leaving highway experts... More >>
1 day ago Friday, February 15 2019 Feb 15, 2019 Friday, February 15, 2019 4:03:00 PM CST February 15, 2019 in Top Stories
CALLAWAY COUNTY - A traffic stop for following too close led to troopers seizing oxycodone, THC wax, shatter, a product... More >>
1 day ago Friday, February 15 2019 Feb 15, 2019 Friday, February 15, 2019 3:04:00 PM CST February 15, 2019 in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 29°
10am 31°
11am 32°
12pm 33°
1pm 33°