Fact Check — Joe Biden: U.S. Forces in ‘Iraq’ Are ‘Being Fired On’ by ‘Assad’s People’

Democratic presidential hopeful former US Vice President Joe Biden gestures during the fourth Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season co-hosted by The New York Times and CNN at Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio on October 15, 2019. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP …
SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

Former Vice President Joe Biden claimed Wednesday night during the fourth Democrat debate that U.S. troops in “Iraq” are “being fired on” by Syrian regime forces.

He said, “I would not have withdrawn the troops, and I would not have withdrawn the additional thousand troops who are in Iraq, which are in retreat now, being fired on by Assad’s people.”

His comment contained two errors: approximately 1,000 U.S. troops are being withdrawn from Syria, not Iraq, and they are not “being fired on” by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s “people.”

Biden may have been referring to a recent incident in which Turkish government forces fired artillery that came near a northern Syrian outpost where U.S. forces were located.

Biden also claimed that President Trump’s withdrawing most U.S. forces in Syria in the advance of a Turkish offensive is “the most shameful thing that any president has done in modern history” in terms of foreign policy — glossing over the 2003 Iraq War and his own support for it.

The Iraq War led to more than 4,500 U.S. forces dead and tens of thousands more wounded. Also, it was executed by President George W. Bush and supported by Biden.

Biden later claimed he was immediately against the Iraq War after voting to authorize it in 2002, but FactCheck.org showed that it was three years before he began opposing it.

While he was vice president in 2011, the Obama administration also withdrew all U.S. forces from Iraq, which created a vacuum for the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

The Obama administration also did not support moderate Syrian protesters before the Syrian civil war began, which prompted some to turn to Islamist groups for help, fueling the civil war and ISIS’s numbers in Syria.

The Syrian civil war has led to hundreds of thousands of Syrians killed, about eight million Syrians displaced from their homes, a refugee crisis, and terrorist attacks in Europe.

Despite this, Biden touted his foreign policy record, stating that “our commanders across the board, former and present, are ashamed.” Actually, only retired commanders — some of whom worked for the Obama administration — have expressed shame.

He said, “And the fact of the matter is, I’ve never seen a time — and I’ve spent thousands of hours in the Situation Room, I’ve spent many hours on the ground in those very places, in Syria and in Iraq, and guess what? Our commanders across the board, former and present, are ashamed of what’s happening here.”

Furthermore, he stated that he would make it clear to Assad that “he’s going to have a problem” with Turkey and tell Turkey it will pay a “heavy price” for invading Syria. (Trump has already threatened to tank Turkey’s economy and imposed sanctions.)

Biden also said he would want U.S. troops to be protected by air cover (which they are as they withdraw from Syria) but said he would “make it clear that they’re not going anywhere.”

“I would want those thousand troops to be protected by air cover, those thousand troops that are being — having to withdraw under fire, make it clear that they’re not going anywhere and have them protected and work my way back toward what, in fact, needs to be done, protecting those Kurds. They lost their lives. This is shameful, shameful what this man has done,” he said.

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