President Donald Trump told reporters Wednesday his thinking on Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad has changed since a Tuesday chemical weapons attack that killed more than 70 people.
Trump, appearing a joint press conference with Jordanian King Abdullah, said his “attitude has changed very much” with regard to Assad. Trump added that the attack “crossed a lot of lines for me,” saying that the attack went “beyond a red line.”
Trump’s extraordinary statement comes just one day after The White House faulted former President Barack Obama for not striking Assad in 2013, despite a 2012 pledge that chemical use would be a “red line” for the U.S. He also emphatically declared: “I will tell you, what happened yesterday is unacceptable to me.”
The chemical weapons attack came just days after the top diplomats of the U.S. said it was a “political reality” that Assad may continue as the leader of Syria. The comments from Trump and from several top administration officials in the last 24 hours may indicate that the political reality has changed.
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley diplomatically indicated that the U.S. may take action against Assad for the chemical attack in an address she gave to the U.N. security council Wednesday.
“When United Nations fails to act collectively, there are times in the life of states that we are compelled to take our own action,” Haley declared. Secretary of Defense James Mattis told Pentagon reporters that the chemical weapons attack was “a heinous act and will be treated as such.”
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