A solemn procession. A long salute. A chaplain’s prayer.

President Donald Trump traveled to Delaware’s Dover Air Force Base on Saturday to pay his respects to the returning remains of four Americans who were killed this week in a suicide bomb attack in Syria.

The bombing, which was the deadliest assault on U.S. troops in Syria since American forces moved into the country in 2015, came as Trump prepares to pull U.S. troops out of Syria.

The president stood solemnly and saluted the remains of civilian Scott A. Wirtz of St. Louis, Missouri, as his body was carried from a C-17 military aircraft into a waiting van.

Wirtz and the three other Americans were killed in a suicide bombing Wednesday in the northern Syrian town of Manbij. He had been assigned to the Defense Intelligence Agency as an operations support specialist.

The three other transfers were to be conducted privately, with the president observing. He also spent time with the families of those killed.

Trump told reporters as he left the White House on Saturday that meeting the relatives of the country’s fallen heroes “might be the toughest thing” he has to do as president.

The trip was not listed on the president’s public schedule that was released Friday night, but he tweeted the news in the morning.

“Will be leaving for Dover to be with the families of 4 very special people who lost their lives in service to our Country!” he wrote. He later told reporters: “When I’m going to meet relatives of some of our great, great heroes that have fallen, I think it might be the toughest thing I have to do as president.”

Trump has made one other visit to Dover during his presidency, soon after taking office. On Feb. 1, 2017, Trump honored the returning remains of a U.S. Navy SEAL killed in a raid in Yemen. Chief Special Warfare Operator William “Ryan” Owens, a 36-year-old from Peoria, Illinois, was the first known U.S. combat casualty since Trump became president.

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for Wednesday’s attack in Manbij, which killed 19 people, including the four Americans.

Trump said before arriving in Dover that IS has lost almost all its territory but “that doesn’t mean you’re not going to have somebody around.” He also said “we can be pulling back but we’ve been hitting ISIS very hard over the last three weeks … and it’s moving along very well.”

Manbij is the main town on the westernmost edge of Syrian territory held by the U.S.-backed Syrian Kurds, running along the border with Turkey. Mixed Kurdish-Arab Syrian forces liberated Manbij from IS in 2016 with help from the U.S.-led coalition.

But Kurdish control of the town infuriated Turkey, which views the main U.S. Kurdish ally, the YPG militia, as “terrorists” linked to Kurdish insurgents on its own soil.

Trump reinforced his withdrawal decision during a meeting with about a half-dozen GOP senators late Wednesday at the White House.

Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, who was at the meeting, told reporters on a conference call that the president remained “steadfast” in his decision not to stay in Syria, or Afghanistan, “forever.” But the senator did not disclose the latest thinking on the withdrawal timeline.

Paul said Trump told the group, “We’re not going to continue the way we’ve done it.”

President Donald Trump, front row from left, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan, Secretary of the Army Mark Esper, Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency Lt. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
President Donald Trump, front row from left, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan, Secretary of the Army Mark Esper, Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency Lt. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
A U.S. Navy carry team moves a transfer case containing the remains of Scott A. Wirtz, Saturday, Jan. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
A U.S. Navy carry team moves a transfer case containing the remains of Scott A. Wirtz, Saturday, Jan. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
President Donald Trump, left, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stand at attention as they await a U. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
President Donald Trump, left, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stand at attention as they await a U. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
President Donald Trump, right, walks with an official party onto an aircraft carrying a transfer case containing the remains of Scott A. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
President Donald Trump, right, walks with an official party onto an aircraft carrying a transfer case containing the remains of Scott A. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
President Donald Trump salutes as a U.S. Navy carry team moves a transfer case containing the remains of Scott A. Wirtz, Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019, at Dover Air Force Base, Del. According to the Department of Defense, Wirtz, a civilian and former Navy SEAL from St. Louis, Mo., was killed Jan. 16, 2019, in a suicide bomb attack in Manbij, Syria. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

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