Trump blames Putin, Obama for 'Animal Assad,' tweets 'big price' after reports of Syrian chemical attack

President Donald Trump called out Russian President Vladimir Putin by name on Sunday for backing Syrian President Bas...

Posted: Apr 9, 2018 12:02 PM
Updated: Apr 9, 2018 12:02 PM

President Donald Trump called out Russian President Vladimir Putin by name on Sunday for backing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and warned of a "big price" after reports of a chemical weapons attack in Syria almost a year to the day since the US struck a Syrian air field after a previous attack.

"Many dead, including women and children, in mindless CHEMICAL attack in Syria," Trump tweeted. "Area of atrocity is in lockdown and encircled by Syrian Army, making it completely inaccessible to outside world. President Putin, Russia and Iran are responsible for backing Animal Assad. Big price..."

He continued, "....to pay. Open area immediately for medical help and verification. Another humanitarian disaster for no reason whatsoever. SICK!"

Trump's tweet about Putin apparently marks the first time the President has publicly attacked the Russian leader by name. Trump also pinned blame for the situation on former US President Barack Obama's Syria policies.

"If President Obama had crossed his stated Red Line In The Sand, the Syrian disaster would have ended long ago! Animal Assad would have been history!" Trump tweeted.

Vice President Mike Pence said in a tweet later Sunday morning that he and Trump were "monitoring the likely chemical attack" and echoed Trump's language about potential consequences.

".@POTUS & I closely monitoring likely chemical attack in Syria. We condemn in the strongest possible terms the assault on innocent lives, including children. The Assad regime & its backers MUST END their barbaric behavior. As POTUS said, big price to pay for those responsible!" Pence tweeted.

Syrian activist groups on Saturday said toxic gas inside barrel bombs dropped from helicopters over a rebel-held city in Syria killed dozens of civilians and wounded scores more. Syrian state news said an "official source" denied the allegations.

National Security Council principals will hold a "small group" meeting to discuss Syria on Monday afternoon, led by John Bolton on his first day as White House national security adviser, two administration officials told CNN.

A small group meeting is typically held to discuss options for the President, one of the officials said.

Trump also spoke with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi, according to a White House readout. The pair discussed the "situation in Syria and the alarming reports of possible chemical attacks near Damascus," as well as the countries' continued fight against ISIS, the White House said.

The United Nations Security Council will hold an emergency meeting Monday on the alleged chemical weapons use, the US mission to the United Nations announced. Russia has requested a separate Security Council meeting later in the day, two UN diplomats told CNN.

In April of last year, the US launched tomahawk missiles at a Syrian air base as the US and others accused Assad's forces of perpetrating a deadly chemical weapons attack, which the Syrian military denied.

Speaking on ABC's "This Week" in an interview taped prior to the President's tweets, White House homeland security adviser Tom Bossert said he was struck by the "timing" of the reported attack, around the anniversary of last year's missile strike. He said the President and his advisers had been discussing the strike and would not rule out another one.

"I wouldn't take anything off the table," he said.

Russia responds to attack

The Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement on Sunday calling the reported chemical attack a "hoax" and an "information attack" aimed at shielding "terrorists."

"Information attacks about the use of chlorine or other poisonous substances by the Syrian government troops are continuing. Another such hoax about the chemical attack that supposedly took place in Douma emerged yesterday," the statement said.

"We have warned of such dangerous provocations many times before. The purpose of these false conjectures, which are without any basis, is to shield the terrorists and the irreconcilable radical opposition, which reject a political settlement while trying to justify possible military strikes from outside," it added.

"It is necessary to warn once again that using far-fetched and fabricated pretexts for a military intervention in Syria, where Russian servicemen are deployed at the request of the legitimate government, is absolutely unacceptable and can lead to the most serious consequences," the statement continued.

Trump's recent call for withdrawal from Syria

St-phane Dujarric, spokesman for UN Secretary General Ant-nio Guterres, said in a statement Sunday that Guterres was "deeply concerned" about the violence and called for "all parties to cease fighting."

"The Secretary-General is particularly alarmed by allegations that chemical weapons have been used against civilian populations in Douma," the statement continued. "While the United Nations is not in a position to verify these reports, the Secretary-General notes that any use of chemical weapons, if confirmed, is abhorrent, and requires a thorough investigation."

Trump's tweets on Sunday against Assad and his key allies would mark another pivotal moment in the United States' winding position regarding the Syrian civil war.

Trump has said in recent weeks that he wants the US to leave Syria soon, despite the ongoing missions to fight ISIS and support some rebel forces. A top general nevertheless said on Thursday that Trump had not given a "specific timeline" for bringing troops home as the anti-ISIS campaign continues.

Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins said in an interview Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union" that Trump "is going to have to reconsider his plan for an early withdrawal in light of what has happened."

She also said the US should consider another strike on Syria and called for increased economic pressure on Russia.

"Last time this happened, the President did a targeted attack to take out some of the facilities," Collins said. "That may be an option that we should consider now, but it is further reason why it is so important that the President ramp up the pressure and the sanctions on the Russian government, because without the support of Russia, I do not believe that Assad would still be in office."

Republican Sen. John McCain, of Arizona, said in a statement Sunday that Trump's withdrawal comments had emboldened Assad and his Russian and Iranian allies.

"President Trump last week signaled to the world that the United States would prematurely withdraw from Syria," McCain, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said. "Bashar Assad and his Russian and Iranian backers have heard him, and emboldened by American inaction, Assad has reportedly launched another chemical attack against innocent men, women and children, this time in Douma."

"President Trump was quick to call out Assad today, along with the Russian and Iranian governments, on Twitter," McCain added. "The question now is whether he will do anything about it. The President responded decisively when Assad used chemical weapons last year. He should do so again, and demonstrate that Assad will pay a price for his war crimes."

A 'red line' on chemical weapons

Obama famously warned in 2012 against the use of chemical weapons in Syria, calling that "a red line" that would lead to a US military response.

In 2013, the US and its allies accused Assad's forces of perpetrating a chemical weapons attack. After the United Kingdom's Parliament voted not to join potential military action against Assad's forces, and as Obama deferred to Congress before ordering a US response, Russia and the United States announced a framework agreement to eliminate Syria's chemical weapons.

Trump himself warned Obama against striking Syria in 2013, but later would rail against Obama for his "red line" on Syria, as he did on Sunday.

Before the alleged chemical weapons attack last year, the Trump administration signaled an openness to Assad staying in power as the protracted civil war raged on. But last April, the US opted to strike a Syrian air field in response to the attack. The US-led coalition fighting ISIS in Syria said in February it had carried out strikes against pro-Assad forces in "self-defense."

In March, the Syrian civil war entered its eighth year.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 312521

Reported Deaths: 5498
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion42641849
Lake27152455
Allen18010298
Elkhart17177221
St. Joseph16799229
Hamilton13011167
Vanderburgh9751120
Tippecanoe858727
Porter827986
Johnson6389165
Hendricks6098157
Vigo608384
Monroe536750
Clark515077
Madison5060122
Delaware4905103
LaPorte465595
Kosciusko462339
Howard344277
Warrick325672
Bartholomew316863
Floyd316277
Wayne307770
Cass299931
Marshall299144
Grant272550
Noble255046
Hancock253852
Henry247537
Boone244554
Dubois237931
Dearborn219030
Jackson215534
Morgan210843
Knox187819
Gibson186925
Shelby182155
Clinton180321
DeKalb177831
Lawrence177648
Adams168222
Miami162614
Wabash162521
Daviess156443
Fayette149234
Steuben147113
Jasper144412
Harrison142924
LaGrange142630
Montgomery142127
Whitley137114
Ripley132115
Huntington127410
Decatur126143
Putnam124627
Randolph124519
Wells124429
White123222
Clay122523
Posey122116
Jefferson118816
Scott109020
Greene102653
Jay99013
Sullivan96416
Starke92021
Jennings85314
Fulton84518
Spencer8378
Perry82521
Fountain7798
Washington7527
Franklin69927
Carroll68613
Orange67328
Vermillion6243
Owen6087
Tipton57627
Parke5706
Newton56312
Rush5438
Blackford53412
Pike50919
Pulaski39515
Martin3585
Brown3424
Benton3402
Crawford2941
Union2702
Switzerland2575
Warren2382
Ohio2317
Unassigned0266

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 382743

Reported Deaths: 6274
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin51161671
Cuyahoga37222743
Hamilton30493372
Montgomery20518236
Butler15199148
Lucas14566417
Summit13933327
Stark9193206
Warren841976
Mahoning7530300
Lake710067
Lorain6690106
Clermont593651
Delaware572537
Licking564577
Trumbull5584147
Fairfield554464
Greene538066
Clark5218101
Allen494989
Marion476759
Medina471657
Wood4598107
Miami437568
Pickaway404048
Portage358972
Columbiana357698
Tuscarawas342667
Richland328539
Wayne327394
Mercer296047
Muskingum252510
Hancock245940
Ross244559
Auglaize236435
Darke232560
Erie230268
Putnam229449
Ashtabula228354
Geauga211851
Scioto200616
Union19668
Shelby194017
Lawrence193039
Athens19134
Seneca182919
Belmont170229
Madison163119
Sandusky157729
Preble156521
Huron155519
Defiance144823
Holmes140439
Logan133517
Knox131718
Fulton128726
Jefferson128613
Crawford126817
Washington125227
Ottawa124530
Clinton109115
Williams10799
Ashland107825
Highland103718
Brown10135
Henry101323
Hardin99719
Champaign9825
Van Wert97318
Jackson96212
Fayette92717
Morrow9202
Guernsey89314
Coshocton85215
Perry82912
Adams80313
Pike7661
Gallia76513
Wyandot73217
Paulding66511
Hocking64516
Noble62224
Carroll48810
Meigs39612
Monroe32321
Morgan2685
Vinton2246
Harrison2193
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Overcast
46° wxIcon
Hi: 47° Lo: 37°
Feels Like: 41°
Angola
Overcast
45° wxIcon
Hi: 45° Lo: 36°
Feels Like: 40°
Huntington
Overcast
45° wxIcon
Hi: 47° Lo: 36°
Feels Like: 41°
Decatur
Overcast
46° wxIcon
Hi: 48° Lo: 38°
Feels Like: 42°
Van Wert
Overcast
46° wxIcon
Hi: 49° Lo: 38°
Feels Like: 42°
Cloudy Thanksgiving
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events