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Footage of US soldiers in Syria mocking locals by asking them if they know the former adult actress Mia Khalifa has provoked a swift backlash on social media, and raised questions about the cost of US operations in the country.

The video was originally uploaded on Tiktok before being copied and shared on other social media platforms. It shows US soldiers in full combat gear asking Syrian men if they know Khalifa. “She’s a girl,” one of the Americans says when they’re met with mystified looks from the locals. “Should’ve studied more arabic,” a caption in the video reads.

A TikTok video shows U.S. soldiers deployed to Syria asking locals if they’ve recently seen their favorite porn star around 😬 https://t.co/skooW15oF1pic.twitter.com/5DM8ijucaK

The interaction stirred up a significant response online, with many accusing the soldiers of a shocking lack of professionalism as well as a noted lack of cultural sensitivity. Numerous commenters decried the scene as an extremely poor use of tax dollars.

This shit is costing us millions per day.

Former Navy fighter pilot Ward Carroll waded into the row to slam the soldiers for their derisive attitude towards the Syrians. “Yeah, treat the locals like they’re idiots because they’re not porn-literate. Hearts and minds like you read about. Good job, Army,” he wrote.

Why the fuck are my tax dollars paying for this

Yeah, treat the locals like they’re idiots because they’re not porn-literate. Hearts and minds like you read about. Good job, Army.

The soldiers were also panned on the geography front, as the porn star’s roots in the Middle East are in Lebanon, not Syria. Khalifa was born in Beirut before later emigrating to the United States when she was still a child. During her porn career she generated significant controversy in the Middle East by appearing in a porn movie while wearing a hijab.

However, some came to the defense of the soldiers, arguing that the video was harmless fun and that the soldiers were just trying to lighten the mood in a stressful situation. “Disgusting that the liberal media would try to twist this into anything other than what it is: young men trying to find common ground between themselves and the native inhabitants,” one commenter quipped.

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