The President of the United States, Donald Trump, accused the government of Syrian President, Bashar al-Assad, of going beyond the red line by attacking civilians using toxic nerve gas. He also said that his attitude toward Assad and Syria had changed. However, he gave no indication as to how or if he would respond.
According to Pres. Trump, the attack that killed roughly about 100 people, some of which were children and crossed many lines. The attack is reminiscent of a similar threat to Barack Obama, Trump’s predecessor, when the previous administration cautioned military action should Syria continue to use chemical warfare. Trump’s accusations against al-Assad placed him at direct odds with Moscow since Russia is the principal backer of the Syrian President.
“I won’t hesitate to tell everyone that I think what happened yesterday in Syria is completely unacceptable to me,” said Trump in a press conference last Wednesday with King Abdullah of Jordan, “I will also tell you that my attitude towards Assad and Syria has changed very much.”
Trump, however, said that he was formulating a brand new policy regarding Syria at a meeting he had earlier.
US Vice President, Mike Pence, said that now is the perfect time to oust Al-Assad. Safe zones also need to be established as he stated in an interview with Fox News.
“Let me be very clear, all options as to what will be done with Syria are now on the table,” he said without elaborating.
US officials had rejected the assertion of Russia that rebels from Syria are to blame for the chemical attack.
Trump’s comments suggested a conflict between the White House and the Kremlin. This is a rather troubling new statement considering both governments previously showed signs of warmer ties. Also, before Trump commented on the chemical attack, he said that he would redirect his focus on matters aside from Assad leaving power. This could mean that efforts for promoting civil ties in the country could be delayed further. Although Pres. Trump did not mention the Kremlin or Russia when he made the comments last Wednesday, Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, was reported as saying that, “Now is the time that Russia reconsiders their support for the Syrian President.”
As for Pence, he said that the time has arrived for Moscow to live up to their word when they said that they will help in eliminating the use of chemical weapons to ensure the people of Syria and their lives are not threatened.
The United States along with other Western countries put all the blame to the armed forces of Assad. What happened can be considered as a human tragedy, or at the very least the worst chemical attack that has taken place in Syria for a four-year time period.
Based on preliminary assessments, US intelligence officials said that all the deaths were caused by a nerve gas that was dropped by an aircraft that is owned by Syria. The toxic gas killed many residents in Khan Sheikhoun. State Department’s senior officials said that they are still unsure whether it was the toxin Sarin.