- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 19, 2019

President Trump paid tribute Saturday to four Americans killed in Syria, attending the dignified transfer service at Dover Air Force Base and meeting with their family members.

In a tweet, he described the four Americans killed in a suicide bombing as “very special people who lost their lives in service to our Country!”

As Mr. Trump left the White House for Dover, he said to bring home Americas killed overseas was one of the most difficult jobs as president.

“When I am going to meet relatives of some of our great, great heroes that have fallen, I think it may be one of the toughest thing I have to do as president,” he said.

The president flew aboard Air Force One to Dover two days after he canceled an official government plane for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to lead a congressional delegation to Afghanistan and Brussels.

Mr. Trump said he grounded the jet because of the partial government shutdown. The decision followed Mrs. Pelosi’s suggestion he postpone the State of the Union address, leaving the impression that the canceled flight was part of a petty tit-for-tat over the partial government shutdown.

The president is making an announcement at 4 p.m. on border security and a proposed solution to end the shutdown, which has lasted a record 29 days.

At the dignified transfer service at the Air Force base, Mr. Trump was joined by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan.

The four Americans — two U.S. service members, a military contractor and a Defense Department civilian — were killed with at last 12 other people in an explosion Wednesday in Syrian city of Manbij.

The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing.

The Pentagon identified three of the four Americans killed:

— Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jonathan R. Farmer, 37, of Boynton Beach, Florida, who was based at Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

— Navy Chief Cryptologic Technician (Interpretive) Shannon M. Kent, 35, of Pine Plains, New York, and based at Fort Meade, Maryland.

— Scott A. Wirtz, a civilian from St. Louis.

The fourth individual, a civilian interpreter from East Point, Ga., has been identified as 27-year-old Ghadir Taher, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reported Friday.

The attack raised questions about Mr. Trump’s decision last month to begin withdrawing all of the 2,000 U.S. troops in Syria and declaring ISIS defeated.

Mr. Trump said that the U.S. forces had wiped out about 99 percent of the ISIS-held territory. The fight in that region, he said, was doing more to help Russia, Iran, Syria and Iraq than American interests.

“At some point you want to bring our forces home,” said Mr. Trump.

The U.S. pullout from Syria began last week with the Pentagon redeploying military equipment but not troops.

The White House has given mixed signals about the timetable for the complete withdraw of U.S. troops. Mr. Trump originally indicated a rapid withdraw but National Security Adviser John Bolton said it could take months, depending on circumstances on the ground.

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