Fox News Poll: Trump Syria Withdrawal Unpopular, Most Americans Don't Believe ISIS Defeated

Poll finds that Trump's approval rating did not receive a bump from announcement of ISIS leader's death

US President Donald Trump speaks during a Cabinet Meeting at the White House on October 21, 2019 in Washington,DC
Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP

A new poll published by Fox News on Sunday showed U.S. President Donald Trump’s Syria policy remains unpopular with Americans, who also doubt the president’s claim that ISIS has been defeated. 

The Fox News poll found that “among Democrats, 73 percent want the U.S. to stay in Syria, 85 percent think ISIS remains, and 87 percent disapprove of Trump on Syria” while “66 percent of Republicans think the U.S. should keep troops in Syria and 56 percent say ISIS is not defeated -- down from 67 percent in January.”

The numbers come on the heels of Trump’s early October withdrawal from Syria, in which he repeatedly declared that ISIS had been “100% defeated.” 73 percent of Republicans approve of the job Trump’s doing on Syria, significantly lower than his 89 percent rating on the economy and 83 percent approval rating on immigration.

Interviews for the poll were conducted Sunday through Wednesday (October 27-30).

Trump announced October 27 the death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr Baghdadi in a U.S. raid, a major achievement that failed to give the president’s job approval a bump signifigant bump. The Fox News poll notes that "42 percent approve and 57 percent disapprove. In early October, it was 43-55 percent."

U.S. armoured vehicles were seen last Thursday near the Syria-Turkey border in a part of northeastern Syria where they had not been observed since early October when Washington announced the withdrawal of American forces, according to a witness and Reuters video footage.

A military source from the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) described the movement as a patrol running between the towns of Rmeilan and Qahtaniyah, which is 20 km (12 miles) to the west. The source said it would "not be a one-time" event.

The witness saw the U.S. military vehicles outside the town of Qahtaniyah, roughly 6 km (4 miles) south of the border.

Later on Thursday, Reuters video recorded from Turkish territory showed a convoy of around 20 military vehicles flying American flags moving through the Syrian border city of Qamishli, which is about 30 km (19 miles) west of Qahtaniyah.

The head of the SDF's media office could not immediately be reached for comment. Turkey's defence and foreign ministries did not respond to a Reuters request for comment.

Trump announced on Oct. 6 that U.S. forces would withdraw from northeastern Syria, where the United States had allied with the SDF to oust Islamic State forces, paving the way for a Turkish offensive against Kurdish militia forces in the area.

In response to a question about the reported troop movement, Colonel Myles Caggins, a spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition, said: "All Coalition military operations are de-conflicted with other forces operating in the region".

"We have begun repositioning Coalition troops to the Deir al-Zor region, in coordination with our SDF partners, to increase security (and) continue our mission to defeat (Islamic State) remnants," Caggins added.

The U.S. military said last week it was reinforcing its position in Syria with additional assets, including mechanized forces, to prevent oil fields from being taken over by remnants of the Islamic State militant group or others.

Trump said last week a small number of U.S. troops would remain in the area of Syria "where they have the oil".