CLOSE X
Advertisement

Obama's 'weak policies' to blame for Syria attack

News
Share this story
US President Donald Trump speaks at the 2017 North America’s Building Trades Unions National Legislative Conference in Washington
Washington - US President Donald Trump blamed former President Barack Obama on Tuesday for “weakness” that he said led to a reprehensible chemical weapons attack by Syria’s government, while his secretary of state said Russia and Iran bore moral responsible for the deaths.

In a series of strongly worded statements, Trump’s administration sought to convey a forceful response to the attack in Syria’s rebel-held northern Idlib. Trump said the attack against innocent people mustn’t be “ignored by the civilized world.”
This photo provided Tuesday, April 4, 2017 by the Syrian anti-government activist group Edlib Media Center, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, shows Syrian doctors treating a child following a suspected chemical attack, at a makeshift hospital, in the town of Khan Sheikhoun, northern Idlib province, Syria. The suspected chemical attack killed dozens of people on Tuesday, Syrian opposition activists said, describing the attack as among the worst in the country's six-year civil war. (Edlib Media Center, via AP)

“These heinous actions by the Bashar al-Assad regime are a consequence of the past administration’s weakness and irresolution,” Trump said, in a reference to Obama’s failure to strike in 2013 after saying a chemical attack by Assad would cross a US "red line".

Trump left it to his top diplomat, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, to assign at least some blame to Russia and Iran, Assad’s most powerful allies. Tillerson called on both countries to use their influence over Assad to prevent future chemical weapons attacks. He noted Russia’s and Iran’s roles in helping broker a ceasefire through diplomatic talks that have occurred in the Kazakh capital of Astana.

“As the self-proclaimed guarantors to the ceasefire negotiated in Astana, Russia and Iran also bear great moral responsibility for these deaths,” Tillerson said.
This frame grab from video provided on Tuesday April 4, 2017, by the Syrian anti-government activist group Edlib Media Center, that is consistent with independent AP reporting, shows a victim of a suspected chemical attack as he receives treatment at a makeshift hospital, in the town of Khan Sheikhoun, northern Idlib province, Syria. The suspected chemical attack killed dozens of people on Tuesday, Syrian opposition activists said, describing the attack as among the worst in the country's six-year civil war. (Edlib Media Center, via AP)

Both Trump and Tillerson referred in written statements to a chemical weapons attack, rather than a suspected attack, suggesting the U.S. has reached some degree of confidence about what took place in Idlib.

At the White House earlier Tuesday, spokesperson Sean Spicer said the White House had received a number of phone calls from European allies questioning how it would address the problem, pressing Trump’s “America First” administration to take a bold position on this civil war that has killed hundreds of thousands and prompted the worst refugee crisis since World War II.
This photo provided Tuesday, April 4, 2017 by the Syrian anti-government activist group Edlib Media Center, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, shows a Syrian doctor treating a child following a suspected chemical attack, at a makeshift hospital, in the town of Khan Sheikhoun, northern Idlib province, Syria. The suspected chemical attack killed dozens of people on Tuesday, Syrian opposition activists said, describing the attack as among the worst in the country's six-year civil war. (Edlib Media Center, via AP)
“I’m not ready to talk about our next step but we’ll talk about that soon,” he said.

The attack Tuesday, in Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib province, is believed to have killed dozens of people, activists on the ground describing the attack as among the worst in the country’s six-year civil war.
This photo provided Tuesday, April 4, 2017 by the Syrian anti-government activist group Edlib Media Center, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, shows victims of a suspected chemical attack, in the town of Khan Sheikhoun, northern Idlib province, Syria. The suspected chemical attack killed dozens of people on Tuesday, Syrian opposition activists said, describing the attack as among the worst in the country's six-year civil war. (Edlib Media Center, via AP)
Obama gave the Assad government an ultimatum that the use of chemical weapons in any circumstance would result in consequences. But those consequences never came — the landscape growing more complicated by the rise of radical groups like Jabhat al-Nusra, and later, the Islamic State group. And while government-backed forces are blamed for launching unrelenting attacks on civilians opposing his rule, many warn that removing Assad now would only create a vacuum for those groups to overrun the country.

Syrian opposition activists claimed that the attack was caused by an airstrike carried out either by the Syrian government or Russian warplanes. Russia’s Defense Ministry categorically rejected the claims.

Russia’s role in Syria was a matter of extreme contention between Moscow and Washington under the Obama administration. Then-Secretary of State John Kerry called for both Syria and Russia to be investigated for war crimes in connection with attacks on civilians.

In Turkey on Thursday, Tillerson was touting a new message: “The longer-term status of President Assad will be decided by the Syrian people.”

Spicer on Tuesday rejected the notion that there is a “comfort level with Assad,” describing the administration’s position as a reflection of “a political reality.” He would not elaborate.

Washington Post 
Share this story
Advertisement
X