White House Fact Checks Ben Carson on Claims of Chinese Military Involvement in Syria

Dr. Ben Carson is standing by his claims on Chinese involvement in Syria.

ByABC News
November 14, 2015, 12:58 AM
Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson speaks during a campaign stop, Oct. 29, 2015, in Lakewood, Colo.
Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson speaks during a campaign stop, Oct. 29, 2015, in Lakewood, Colo.
David Zalubowski/AP Photo

— -- Republican frontrunner Dr. Ben Carson is standing by his claims that the Chinese are militarily involved in the Syria conflict, providing evidence to ABC News that his campaign says supports his controversial remarks at Tuesday night’s republican debate. But according to the White House national security team, the Chinese are not involved.

Carson’s evidence, which the campaign recently released to ABC News, includes Google satellite images of alleged Chinese-made radar systems and photos of a Syrian fighter standing in front of a row of Chinese made SUVs. Along with the images, his campaign released a brief summary of its evidence.

China has had longstanding and well-documented security ties to Syria, and has provided various military weapons and equipment that Syria is using in the current conflict,” the statement reads in part. “Dr. Carson does not believe China is currently fighting in or deploying troops to Syria, and contrary to press reports, he has never made that assertion.”

On Tuesday night, Carson equated China’s actions inside Syria with that of Russia, which has been conducting a controversial aerial bombing campaign for over a month. “We also must recognize that it’s a very complex place,” Carson said of Syria. “You know, the Chinese are there, as well as the Russians, and you have all kinds of factions there.”

Carson doubled down on his claims today, saying he knows more about the topic than the White House. “I have several sources that I’ve gotten material from. I am surprised my sources are better than theirs,” Carson said today. “They [The White House] will have an opportunity to see my material.”

And when pressed in an interview with Yahoo’s Global News Anchor Katie Couric, he explain further saying that military systems in the country would have to be manned by the Chinese.

“I don’t think quite frankly that you can just send that stuff there and not have a support system for it,” Carson told Couric.

On Wednesday, ABC’s Jonathan Karl asked National Security Advisor Susan Rice about Carson’s assessment of Chinese military involvement. “I have not seen evidence of Chinese military involvement in Syria,” Rice said.

The White House further discounted Carson’s claims, saying that the Chinese have made it a practice not to engage in military operations in the Middle East.

“I think it’s worth stepping back and noting that they’re trying to make it a practice to not get extended into military conflicts in the Middle East,” Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes said. “In many respects, their policy over many years, if not decades, has been to not be overextended in military exercises.”

When asked today about Carson claiming his military advisers have more knowledge than officials advising the president, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest was at loss for words.

“Maybe it violates my job description as a spokesperson to be speechless,” Earnest laughed. “But I think in this case, I am.””