President Donald Trump on Tuesday blasted former President Barack Obama’s handling of the Syrian civil war and Syrian President Bashar Assad in a joint press conference with Lebanon’s Prime Minister
“I’m not a fan of Assad,” Trump said in response to a question about how the US could help Lebanon deal with the massive influx of Syrian refugees the conflict has displaced into the country.
“We hit … 59 out of 59 when we launched the tomahawk missiles,” said Trump, referencing the April 7 US Navy strike on Assad’s air force in response to a chemical weapon attack the Syrian army perpetrated on its own people.
“I’m not somebody who will stand by and let him get away with what he’s tried to do, and he did it a number of times,” said Trump.
“When Obama drew that red line in the sand, he should have crossed that red line because some horrible acts against humanity took place including gas, and the killing through gasses,” said Trump of Obama’s 2013 “red line,” where the former president responded to reports that Assad had used chemical weapons by saying he would meet further chemical weapons use with force.
Later, Assad again used chemical weapons, and Obama opted to have Russia step in to remove them.
“That was a bad day for this country,” Trump said. “Had President Obama gone across that line and done what he should have done, I don’t believe you’d have Russia, and I don’t believe you’d have Iran to anywhere near the extent, and maybe not at all in Syria today.”
In late September 2015, Russia deployed its air force and military advisers to bolster Assad in Syria. Iran then stepped up its support for the regime and the tide on the battlefield turned against the rebels Obama had supported with arms transfers and training.
Today, the White House accepts Assad’s sovereignty in Syria as a “political reality,” despite clear issues with his leadership.