President Trump on Wednesday said the horror of seeing “innocent children, innocent babies” gasping for air after a chemical weapons attack in Syria made him change his attitude “toward Syria and Assad.”
Trump did not specify if he would change his approach, but he said the chemical attack “crossed a lot of lines for me.” A few days ago, the White House said it would be silly to keep attempting to oust President Bashar al Assad.
The chemical weapons attack occurred in an opposition-held town in northern Syria. The death toll was not immediately clear. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least 58 died, including 11 children. Witnesses told local outlets that the attack was carried out by Sukhou jets operated by Russian and Syrian governments.
The Syrian government “categorically rejected” the accusation and the Russians said the residents of Khan Sheikhoun were exposed to toxic agents from a rebel arsenal hit by a Syrian air strike.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said, "There's no doubt in our mind that the Syrian regime under the leadership of Bashar al Assad is responsible for this horrific attack.” He also said Russia "really needs to think carefully" about its "continued support" for the Assad regime.
The New York Times reported that Nikki Haley, Trump’s ambassador to the United Nations, said the U.S. could take unilateral action if the Security Council does not respond to the attack. The report said the response could include airstrikes.
"Yesterday's chemical attack, a chemical attack that was so horrific in Syria against innocent people, including women, small children and even beautiful little babies, their deaths were an affront to humanity," Trump said, while standing alongside King Abdullah II of Jordan. "These heinous actions by the Assad regime cannot be tolerated. The United States stands with our allies across the globe to condemn this horrific attack and all other horrific attacks, for that matter."
"I have to just say that the world is a mess. I inherited a mess," he said.