Trump admitted during an interview on Tuesday that he considered assassinating Syrian President Bashar al-Assad but was persuaded not to go ahead with the idea by senior US military officials.
Making the remarks during an interview on Fox News, Trump said the proposal was debated at the White House in April 2017, after reports of an alleged chemical gas attack surfaced.
The alleged attack, said to have been conducted in the north western Idlib province near the village of Khan Cheikhoun, was widely reported in Western media as having killed approximately 80 civilians was immediately attributed by Western politicians and corporate media to the Syrian armed forces.
During the interview Trump confirmed that it was then Secretary of Defense James Mattis who talked him out of going ahead with the plan.
“I considered him (Assad), of course, not a good person. I thought about trying to eliminate him if I wanted to, but Mattis was against it. Mattis was against most of these things… I would have preferred to eliminate him… Everything was ready but Mattis did not want to do it.”
During the interview Trump added that he thought the former military general was ‘overrated’. LINK
Retired Marine Corps General Mattis served as head of the Pentagon from the beginning of 2017 and left the post due to disagreements with Trump, resigning (or being dismissed) in December 2018.
After that, a letter of resignation from Mattis to the President was published, in which he recommended that Trump find a Minister whose views would be more in line with his own. Some media reports stated that Trump regarded this as a personal attack against the background of a difference of opinion over the withdrawal of US troops from Syria. As a result, the President announced that Mattis would step down earlier than planned. LINK
In 2018, Trump had emphatically denied claims by veteran US journalist Bob Woodward that he had ordered the assassination of Syrian President Bashar Assad, claiming that such an operation had never even been contemplated.
Speaking during a White House briefing in September 2018 Trump had stated of claims made in a book written by Woodward titled “Fear: Trump in the White House”:
“Not at all. No, the book is fiction. I heard somewhere where they said the assassination of President Assad by the United States. […] The book is total fiction, just like he wrote in the past about other presidents.”
The book claims that Trump had ordered the Pentagon to arrange the assassination of Assad after a chemical weapons incident in Syria’s Idlib province on 4 April 2017 that killed about 80 civilians and injured 200 more.
While the Syrian opposition and a number of Western countries accused the Arab country’s government troops of carrying out the attack, Damascus denied the allegations, with Assad stressing that his government had never used weapons of mass destruction, including chemical weapons, against the Syrian people.
The Idlib incident was used as a pretext for a US missile strike against the Syrian military’s Ash Sha’irat airbase on 6 April 2017. Trump described the attack as a response to the Idlib incident, while Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov denounced the strike as a violation of international law. LINK
The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons later issued a report that generally supported the US claims, however it later emerged that evidence had been suppressed or altered by officials charged with directing the investigation in order to promote predetermined conclusions. LINK
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