The White House and Pentagon have remained relatively quiet about a February skirmish between U.S. troops and Russian mercenaries in Syria, but President Donald Trump broke the silence during a fundraiser last week, bragging to his top donors about the Pentagon’s performance.
The details of the battle remain classified, but speaking to donors in midtown Manhattan last Wednesday, Trump said he was amazed by the performance of American F-18 pilots. He suggested that the strikes may have been as brief as “10 minutes” and taken out 100 to 300 Russians, according to a person briefed on the president’s remarks, which have not previously been reported.
According to The New York Times, which last week provided the first detailed description of the battle, the confrontation lasted four hours and left between 200 and 300 pro-Assad forces dead.
Politico reported that White House deputy press secretary Raj Shah declined to comment on the president's remarks, owing to the fact that information about the events remains classified.
Approximately 100 of Trump’s top donors attended the fundraiser, held at the Lotte New York Palace Hotel, paying at least $50,000 per person to dine with the president.
The Manhattan fundraiser raised about $5 million for the Trump Victory Committee, a joint fundraising committee that funnels cash both to the president’s campaign operation and the Republican National Committee.