I don’t want to call my President a liar, but it really is Iraq.
It is not the Iraq we thought we were fighting when we went in, although Iraq had similarities, a country with a divided religion and outside actors that are a part of that religion. And Like Syria before US forces went into Iraq, Iraq was a country controlled by a tyrant, whose power kept a civil war from happening.
Perhaps one difference he is talking about, is that in Syria there is another religion (Christianity) with a piece of the leadership.
The difference between Syria now and Iraq then is that in Iraq, the civil war happened after we broke the force that was holding them in friction, and, unlike Syria, we didn’t get ourselves into a civil war going in.
Also now, Iraq still hasn’t got that coercive friction that creates one country, and Syria has almost no friction that would be recognised, as all the parties in the civil war allow Syria to move in one direction.
Once friction is allowed to take hold (when the war ends) then Syria will be exactly like Iraq, a country almost on the edge of civil war.