Factchecks

Clinton’s Real Record on Syria, and Trump’s Dangerously Unserious Approach

Hillary Clinton has long favored an assertive approach in Syria while steadfastly opposing getting drawn into another costly war in the Middle East. As Secretary of State, Clinton took a forceful position toward President Bashar al-Assad’s ruthless regime, calling early on for providing support to moderate opposition forces. She has consistently looked for ways to aid the Syrian people, who have been caught for too long between barbaric terrorists and Assad’s brutal rule.

Donald Trump, on the other hand, has never laid out a serious approach for dealing with the conflict and humanitarian disaster  in Syria. Instead, he’s put forth a mixture of fearmongering, lie-peddling, and dangerously bad ideas. Really bad ideas, like letting Syria be a “free zone for ISIS.” And at the same time he has proposed to ban the refugees who are victims of this conflict from the United States. Take a look at the two candidates’ records:

Hillary Clinton:

  • In 2012, before the rise of ISIS further complicated the situation in Syria, Clinton strongly urged President Obama to arm moderate rebels in support of the eventual removal of the brutal Assad regime.
  • As Secretary of State, Clinton lambasted China, Russia and Iran for backing Assad, despite his nefarious behavior, purely because “he does their bidding.”
  • After Assad used chemical weapons on his own people, Clinton publicly backed Obama’s call for targeted airstrikes as he sought Congressional approval.
  • Hillary Clinton has called for the United States to show leadership and do our part to ease this humanitarian crisis by continuing to accept Syrian refugees - who are mostly women and children - following vigorous screening and vetting
  • Clinton has supported President Obama’s limited deployment of special operating forces to Syria, saying they “will continue to provide critical support to local forces on the ground who ultimately must be the ones to win this fight” – while making absolutely clear she will not send tens of thousands of American combat troops back into another costly ground war in the Middle East.
  • Last year, Clinton laid out a comprehensive plan for defeating ISIS and the global terrorist movement. Among other things, she proposed instituting a coalition no-fly zone in the air coupled with safe zones on the ground to protect Syrian civilians and create leverage for a diplomatic resolution that includes Assad’s departure. She encouraged increased coalition cooperation in order to intensify air strikes and bolster intelligence efforts to combat ISIS and other terrorist groups in Syria, like Al Qaeda affiliate Al Nusra. She called on the Saudis, Qataris, Turks, and others to step up and do their part, and she called on Congress to pass a new AUMF that makes our commitment to winning this fight clear.

Donald Trump:

  • Donald Trump, 6/16/15: “It's really rather amazing, maybe Syria should be a free zone for ISIS, let them fight and then you pick up the remnants.”
  • In March, Trump raised the possibility of sending20,000 – 30,000 American ground troops to Syria and Iraq, drawing us into another costly and misguided war in the Middle East.
  • Trump repeatedlypraised Putin for “bombing the hell out of ISIS” in Syria when, in reality, the overwhelming majorityof Russia’s strikes were not targeting ISIS – and many were intentionally hittingS.-backed forces.
  • Trump has repeatedly pushed blatant lies about Syrian refugees, using the victims of a heartbreaking crisis to stoke fears for his own political gain
    • NPR: Trump claimed there's no "paperwork [for refugees]." But that's not true. Lots is known about them, and they already undergo rigorous screening.
    • Washington Post: Trump’s claim that Hillary Clinton would bring in 620,000 new refugees from Syria is an “invented figure”
    • PolitiFact: Donald Trump's false claim that refugees, migrants are mostly 'strong, powerful men'
    • BuzzFeed: Trump Predicts Refugees With ISIS Phones Will Commit 9/11 Size Attack In The U.S.
    • PolitiFact: Wrong: Donald Trump says there's 'no system to vet' refugees
    • Business Insider:  Trump on Syrian refugees: 'Lock your doors, folks'
    • Washington Post: Trump’s repeated claim that Obama is accepting 200,000 Syrian refugees | Four Pinocchios
    • Fox News: Trump: Syrian refugees could be the 'ultimate Trojan horse'
    • Bloomberg: Pence Says Trump Would Stop Accepting Syrian Refugees Into U.S.
    • Independent: Donald Trump: I will look Syrian kids in the face and say 'go home’