In a statement, President Donald Trump condemned the attack, but also blamed the Obama administration. “Today’s chemical attack in Syria against innocent people including women and children is reprehensible and cannot be ignored by the civilized world,” Trump said. “These heinous actions by the Bashar al-Assad regime are a consequence of the past administration’s weakness and irresolution. . . . President Obama said in 2012 that he would establish a ‘red line’ against the use of chemical weapons and then did nothing.”
But in 2013, Trump tweeted on at least four occasions that the U.S. should not strike Syria over “red line” violations, calling Obama’s 2012 statement “dumb” and a potential U.S. attack a “stupid move.”
In 2013, Trump repeatedly tweeted at Obama not to attack in Syria. Here’s one example. https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/375609403376144384 …
In recent days, the Trump administration has stepped back from Obama-era demands that Assad be removed from power in favor of refocusing its efforts in Syria against the Islamic State, a move some fear may have emboldened Assad.
“The Trump administration had hoped to defer or even ignore the Assad issue,” Frederic Hof, a former Obama administration adviser on Syria currently at the Atlantic Council think tank, told the Wall Street Journal. “Assad — already conditioned by over four years of Obama administration weakness — may have taken recent administration statements about not focusing on him as a green light by new management to do as he wished to civilians in rebel-occupied areas.”
In comments last week, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the “longer-term status of President (Bashar) Assad will be decided by the Syrian people,” and U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said “our priority is no longer to sit there and focus on getting Assad out.”
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), lashed out at Trump’s policy on Syria. “It is another disgraceful chapter in American history and it was predictable,” he told CNN on Tuesday. In a later statement, McCain said: “Assad believes he can commit war crimes with impunity. The question that confronts the United States now is whether we will take any action to disabuse him of this murderous notion.”
Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) told CNN that Assad was probably testing Trump, and said the U.S. needs to react appropriately.
“We can’t let them cross this line without having consequences,” Kennedy said.
The response by President Donald Trump’s administration to the ongoing civil war in Syria, marked most recently by an apparent chemical weapons attack in a rebel-controlled region, “is another disgraceful chapter in American history,” Sen. John McCain said Tuesday morning.
At least 58 people, including children, were killed Tuesday by what appeared to be a chemical attack delivered via airstrike in the northern Syria city of Khan Sheikhoun, according to a Washington Post report. Images and videos from the attack’s aftermath showed victims choking and foaming at the mouth. One video, according to the New York Times, showed a victim with constricted pupils, a symptom consistent with the use of a nerve agent or other chemical weapons.
US President says the attack was the work of the regime of Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad, but says it came as a result of his predecessor’s inaction