18, October 2017
US President Donald Trump has finally offered condolence to the families of four special operations soldiers recently ambushed to death in uranium-rich Niger, where the United States is not formally at war.
“President Trump spoke to all four of the families of those who were killed in action in Niger,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement on Tuesday.
The US president has been under fire over remaining silent after the incident for around 12 days.
“He offered condolences on behalf of a grateful nation and assured them their family’s extraordinary sacrifice to the country will never be forgotten,” she said.
Two other Green Berets were also injured on the October 4 ambush near the Nigerien capital Niamey by militants said to be linked with the Daesh Takfiri group in Iraq and Syria.
The American troops were supposedly on an advisory and training mission in the African country, along with 40 Nigerien troops, when the attack was launched.
Trump finally spoke about them on Monday, while taking the chance to attack former President Barack Obama.
“So the traditional way, if you look at President Obama and other presidents, most of them, didn’t make calls, a lot of them didn’t make calls. I like to call when it’s appropriate, when I think I’m able to do it,” he said.
He further complained about how “tough” it is to call the families of the fallen soldiers.
“The toughest calls I have to make are the calls where this happens — soldiers are killed,” Trump said. “It’s a very difficult thing. Now it gets to a point where you make four or five of them in one day, it’s a very, very tough day. For me that’s by far the toughest.”
As the Monday presser continued, Trump was pressed on his claims, making him to back down a bit.
“I don’t know if he did. I was told that he didn’t often, and a lot of presidents don’t, they write letters. I do a combination of both,” said the US president. “President Obama, I think probably did [call] sometimes and maybe sometimes he didn’t, I don’t know, that’s what I was told… all I can do is ask my generals.”
Later on that day, the White House press secretary appeared to do some crisis management.
“The president wasn’t criticizing predecessors, but stating a fact… When Americans make the ultimate sacrifice, presidents pay their respects. Sometimes they call, sometimes they sent a letter, other times they have the opportunity to meet family members in person,” Sanders said. “This president, like his predecessors, has done each of these. Individuals claiming former presidents, such as their bosses, called each family of the fallen, are mistaken.”