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Trump calls out ‘Animal Assad’ for suspected chemical attack in Syria

Jonathan Lemire, The Associated Press | posted Monday, Apr 9th, 2018

President Donald Trump is condemning what he calls a “mindless CHEMICAL attack” in Syria that has killed women and children, though he’s offering no evidence to support the claim by Syrian opposition activists and rescuers that poison gas was used.

Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government is denying the allegations of such an attack on a rebel-held town near Damascus, the capital.

First responders and a relief organization said they found families suffocated in their homes and shelters in the besieged town of Douma, with foam on their mouths.

They did not identify the substance used, but the Syrian Civil Defence and the Syrian American Medical Society said survivors treated at clinics smelled strongly of chlorine.

Trump says in a tweet Sunday that the “area of atrocity is in lockdown and encircled by Syrian Army, making it completely inaccessible to outside world.” He says Russian President Vladimir Putin and Iran – influential Syrian backers – “are responsible for backing Animal Assad.”

Trump is calling for the area to be opened “immediately for medical help and verification. Another humanitarian disaster for no reason whatsoever. SICK!”



Trump’s homeland security adviser, Thomas Bossert, noted the timing of the suspected chemical attack – almost a year to the day of the U.S. missile strikes.

“This isn’t just the United States. This is one of those issues on which every nation, all peoples, have all agreed and have agreed since World War II, it’s an unacceptable practice,” Bossert told ABC’s “This Week.”

Asked about the potential for another American missile strike in response, Bossert said: “I wouldn’t take anything off the table. These are horrible photos. We’re looking into the attack at this point.” He said Trump’s national security team has been talking with the president about the situation.

Trump laid some blame on his predecessor, Barack Obama, for Assad’s continued grip on power after years of civil war.

Obama had threatened the Syrian leader with military action after a chemical weapons attack killed hundreds outside Damascus, saying the use of such weapons was a “red line.” American ships in the Mediterranean were poised to launch missiles, but Obama pulled back after key U.S. ally Britain, as well as Congress, balked at his plan.

He opted for a Russian-backed proposal that was supposed to remove and eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons stockpiles.

“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 said in his series of Sunday tweets.

The developments come as Trump is moving to dramatically scale back U.S. goals in Syria, pushing for a quick military withdrawal. Trump has given no formal order to pull out the 2,000 U.S. troops currently in Syria or offered a public timetable, other than to say the United States will pull out as soon as the last remaining Islamic State fighters can be vanquished.

But Trump has signalled to his advisers that ideally, he wants all troops out within six months, The Associated Press has reported.

“It is time to move that pendulum back in a way that brings regional partners and others with equities in these matters all around the globe into putting their resources and their treasure and their boys and girls on the line, and not just American troops,” Bossert said.


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