Trump travels to Delaware base to honor
four Americans killed in Syria
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[January 21, 2019]
By Alexandra Alper
DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del (Reuters) - U.S.
President Donald Trump traveled to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware on
Saturday to receive the remains of four Americans killed in a suicide
bombing in northern Syria.
Trump, locked in a battle with congressional Democrats that has led to a
nearly month-long partial government shutdown, announced his trip via a
pre-dawn tweet, saying he was going "to be with the families of 4 very
special people who lost their lives in service to our Country!"
Trump told reporters on the South Lawn of the White House prior to
departure that he planned to meet the families, a duty which he said
"might be the toughest thing I have to do as president."
He was greeted by military staff at Dover Air Force Base after a short
flight from Joint Base Andrews, but did not speak to reporters before
entering his motorcade.
Flanked by military officials, Trump, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and
acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan filed up a ramp leading onto a
military transport aircraft, where a prayer was given to honor the
memory of Scott Wirtz, a civilian Department of Defense employee from
Trump filed down the plank and saluted while six service members clad in
fatigues and white gloves carried an American flag-draped casket
carrying Wirtz to a waiting gray van.
The Dover base is a traditional hub for returning the remains of
American troops abroad.
The United States believes the attack that killed the Americans was the
work of Islamic State militants.
Trump announced last month that he planned to speedily withdraw U.S.
troops from Syria, but has since said it does not need to go quickly as
he tries to ensure safety of Kurdish allies in northern Syria who are at
risk of attack from neighboring Turkey.
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A military honor guard carries the remains of Scott Wirtz, a
civilian employee of the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency killed
along with three members of the U.S. military during a recent attack
in Syria, past during a dignified transfer ceremony at Dover Air
Force Base, in Dover, Delaware, U.S., January 19, 2019.
Trump told reporters on Saturday that his Syria policy has made
progress but that some work remained in destroying Islamic State
targets. He defended his plans for a withdrawal.
"It's moving along very well, but when I took over it was a total
mess. But you do have to ask yourself, we’re killing ISIS for
Russia, for Iran, for Syria, for Iraq, for a lot of other places. At
some point you want to bring our people back home," he said.
In addition to Wirtz, those who died during the Wednesday attack in
Manbij, Syria, were Army Chief Warrant Officer Jonathan Farmer, 37,
of Boynton Beach, Florida, and Navy Chief Cryptologic Technician
Shannon Kent, 35, identified as being from upstate New York, the
Department of Defense said in a statement.
The Pentagon did not identify the fourth person killed, a contractor
working for a private company. U.S. media identified her as Ghadir
Taher, a 27-year-old employee of defense contractor Valiant
(Reporting by Alexandra Alper; Writing by Steve Holland and David
Brunnstrom; Editing by Leslie Adler)
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