Ben Carson: My sources 'better' than White House on Syria

Story highlights

  • Carson was pressed by reporters in South Carolina as to whether he wanted to revise what he said in debate
  • President Barack Obama also pushed back on Carson's statements that defeating ISIS would be easy

Washington (CNN)GOP presidential candidate Ben Carson said Friday that he has better sources than the White House about the situation in Syria, sticking by his claim that China is involved in the fighting there.

Carson previously said that the Chinese were involved in Syria in Tuesday's GOP debate, which the White House rejected.
National Security Adviser Susan Rice said Thursday she has "not seen any evidence of Chinese military involvement in Syria" when asked about Carson's suggestions at a White House briefing.
    On Friday in South Carolina, Carson was pressed by CNN on whether he wanted to revise his earlier comments.
    "I have several sources that I've gotten material from," said the retired neurosurgeon. "I'm surprised that my material is better than theirs."
    At the debate, he responded to a question on Syria by saying at one point: "We also must recognize that it's a very complex place. You know, the Chinese are there, as well as the Russians, and you have all kinds of factions there."
    The Carson campaign released documents later Friday that blasted the media's response to his debate comments and included public reports of Chinese military equipment being used in Syria.
    "As many members of the media clearly do not understand Dr. Carson's comment properly and have not done the requisite homework to learn about China's presence in Syria, we offer additional clarification here," one of the campaign documents reads.
    It goes on: "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. 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."
    However, many large countries supply arms to nations around the world, and the presence of this equipment is not conventionally considered involvement by those originating countries in the conflicts where the equipment is deployed.
    Asked about Carson's comments Friday, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest poked fun at the remarks.
    "Maybe it violates my job description as a spokesperson to be speechless, but I think in this case I am," he said.
    In an interview with ABC News released on Friday, President Barack Obama also pushed back on Carson's statements that defeating ISIS would be easy.
    Carson "doesn't know much about it," he said.
    "Over the last several years, I've had access to all the best military minds in the country and all the best foreign policy minds in the country, and I'm not running for office. And so my only interest is in success," Obama said.