LONDON: Former US President Donald Trump had to be talked out of assassinating Syrian President Bashar Assad in 2017, according to a former adviser.
KT Macfarland, former deputy national security adviser, said Trump insisted that he would “take him out” after seeing pictures of a Syrian regime sarin gas attack on civilians.
Speaking with the BBC for a documentary on the former president, Macfarland said he told Trump: “You can’t do that. He said ‘why?’ And I said ‘well, that’s an act of war’.”
In April 2017, the Assad regime launched a sarin gas attack on the town of Khan Sheikhoun in western Syria, killing 90 people. Shocking footage of the attack was shared widely online, prompting widespread outrage.
Macfarland said: “I knew what he (Trump) wanted to do was somehow punish Assad and not let him get away with this.”
Syria and Russia denied that the Assad regime was involved in the attack, but a UN report at the time said it was “confident that the Syrian Arab Republic is responsible for the release of sarin at Khan Sheikhoun on April 4, 2017.”
Trump would go on to respond by launching his administration’s only direct attack on Syria, firing 59 cruise missiles at Shayrat airbase in western Syria — said to have been the location from where the chemical attack was launched.
According to a 2019 report by the Berlin-based Global Public Policy Institute, there is evidence that over 330 chemical attacks have been launched since the Syrian conflict erupted.
The report said 98 percent of those were committed by the Assad regime, and the remaining 2 percent by Daesh. “We suspect that the real number may still be significantly higher,” the report added.