"Many dead, including women and children, in mindless CHEMICAL attack in Syria," Trump tweeted. "Area of atrocity is in lockdown and encircled by Syrian Army, making it completely inaccessible to outside world. President Putin, Russia and Iran are responsible for backing Animal Assad. Big price..."
He continued, "....to pay. Open area immediately for medical help and verification. Another humanitarian disaster for no reason whatsoever. SICK!"
Trump's tweet naming Putin marks a rare rebuke by the President against the Russian leader. Trump also pinned blame for the situation on former US President Barack Obama's Syria policies.
"If President Obama had crossed his stated Red Line In The Sand, the Syrian disaster would have ended long ago! Animal Assad would have been history!" Trump tweeted.
Vice President Mike Pence said in a tweet later Sunday morning that he and Trump were "monitoring the likely chemical attack" and echoed Trump's language about potential consequences.
"[email protected] & I closely monitoring likely chemical attack in Syria. We condemn in the strongest possible terms the assault on innocent lives, including children. The Assad regime & its backers MUST END their barbaric behavior. As POTUS said, big price to pay for those responsible!" Pence tweeted.
Speaking on ABC's "This Week" in an interview taped prior to the President's tweets, White House homeland security adviser Tom Bossert said he was struck by the "timing" of the reported attack, around the anniversary of last year's missile strike. He said the President and his advisers had been discussing the strike and would not rule out another one.
"I wouldn't take anything off the table," he said.
Russia responds to attack
The Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement on Sunday calling the reported chemical attack a "hoax" and an "information attack" aimed at shielding "terrorists."
"Information attacks about the use of chlorine or other poisonous substances by the Syrian government troops are continuing. Another such hoax about the chemical attack that supposedly took place in Douma emerged yesterday," the statement said.
"We have warned of such dangerous provocations many times before. The purpose of these false conjectures, which are without any basis, is to shield the terrorists and the irreconcilable radical opposition, which reject a political settlement while trying to justify possible military strikes from outside," it added.
Trump's recent call for withdrawal from Syria
Stéphane Dujarric, spokesman for UN Secretary General António Guterres, said in a statement Sunday that Guterres was "deeply concerned" about the violence and called for "all parties to cease fighting."
"The Secretary-General is particularly alarmed by allegations that chemical weapons have been used against civilian populations in Douma," the statement continued. "While the United Nations is not in a position to verify these reports, the Secretary-General notes that any use of chemical weapons, if confirmed, is abhorrent, and requires a thorough investigation."
Trump's tweets on Sunday against Assad and his key allies would mark another pivotal moment in the United States' winding position regarding the Syrian civil war.
Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins said in an interview Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union" that Trump "is going to have to reconsider his plan for an early withdrawal in light of what has happened."
She also said the US should consider another strike on Syria and called for increased economic pressure on Russia.
"Last time this happened, the President did a targeted attack to take out some of the facilities," Collins said. "That may be an option that we should consider now, but it is further reason why it is so important that the President ramp up the pressure and the sanctions on the Russian government, because without the support of Russia, I do not believe that Assad would still be in office."
A 'red line' on chemical weapons
Trump himself warned Obama against striking Syria in 2013, but later would rail against Obama for his "red line" on Syria, as he did on Sunday.
In March, the Syrian civil war entered its eighth year.
CNN's Steve Almasy, Nathan Hodge and Richard Roth contributed to this report.
Source link : https://www.cnn.com/2018/04/08/politics/donald-trump-syria-assad/index.html
Publish date : 2018-04-08 15:07:44