- Leah Millis/Reuters
- President Donald Trump reportedly boasted about how US forces performed in a classified battle in Syria during a recent closed-door fundraiser, even as the White House has worked to keep details about the skirmish under wraps.
- The battle occurred in early February and involved a clash between US forces and a pro-Syrian government force that reportedly included Russian mercenaries.
- There are roughly 2,000 US troops in Syria.
President Donald Trump boasted about how US forces performed in a classified battle in Syria during a recent closed-door fundraiser, Politico reported, even as the White House has worked to keep details about the skirmish under wraps.
Details about the battle recently emerged in an article from The New York Times, which alleged hundreds of Russian mercenaries fighting alongside Syrian troops were killed by roughly 40 US commandos who also had significant air support. The battle took place in early February near a gas station in eastern Syria and no US troops were harmed by the end of it, according to the report.
The US military has long feared a clash between US and Russian troops, but the Kremlin has not claimed the forces involved in the battle in February. The mercenaries involved in that bloody encounter were reportedly associated with the Wagner Group.
At the recent fundraiser, Trump reportedly bragged about how quickly US F-18 pilots took out hundreds of Russian mercenaries, stating the strikes may have only lasted about “10 minutes” in total and took out 100 to 300 Russians in the process.
The presence of US troops in Syria, a country America is not technically at war with, remains controversial and Trump has at times signaled a desire to pull them out.
The Pentagon’s official stance on the roughly 2,000 troops stationed in Syria is that they are there to combat the terrorist group ISIS. But the fact that they’ve clashed with pro-Syrian government forces and Russian mercenaries reveals how complicated the situation is on the ground in terms of the varying players and alliances associated with the conflict in Syria.