U.S. President Donald Trump, in an exclusive interview on Fox Business, described Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad as a “butcher” and “truly an evil person,” noting that the relationship between Syria and Russia is “bad for mankind.”
Nevertheless, America’s commander-in-chief added that the United States has no plans to enter Syria.
“We’re not going into Syria,” President Trump told Maria Bartiromo from FOX Business. “But when I see people using horrible, horrible chemical weapons… and see these beautiful kids that are dead in their father’s arms, or you see kids gasping for life… when you see that, I immediately called General [James] Mattis.”
Mattis serves as Trump’s secretary of Defense.
The U.S. president’s comments came nearly a week after he ordered U.S. airstrikes against an Assad base in Syria in response to the dictator’s use of chemical weapons in a rebel-held part of northern Syria.
“What I did should have been done by the Obama administration a long time before I did it,” he told Fox Business. “I think Syria would be a lot better off right now than it has been.”
“People just don’t see this — the level of brutality. The level of viciousness. But when they drop barrel bombs and bombs of any kind right on top of the civilian population,” declared President Trump, referring to the Syrian dictator’s attacks on his own people, “that’s the worst thing. I’ve never seen anything like it and frankly, Putin is backing a person that’s truly an evil person. And I think it’s very bad for Russia. I think it’s very bad for mankind. It’s very bad for this world.”
Assad considers all Syrian opposition forces to be terrorists.
“I think aligning yourself with Assad is a big mistake because he’s a butcher, and I think it’s very bad for Russia,” Trump said, addressing Putin.
Russia doubled down on its support for Assad before and after the recent U.S. airstrikes.
On Wednesday, Putin said U.S.-Russian relations have worsened under President Trump’s watch.
“It can be said that the level of trust at the working level, especially at the military level, has not become better but most likely has degraded,” President Putin told a Russian state television channel.
Wednesday marks the beginning of an intense day of diplomacy in Moscow for U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, notes CBS News.
Russia and the United States have been condemning one another since the Trump administration bombed Assad last week.
Putin has stood by allegations that the Assad regime was framed for the chemical weapons assault, that killed as many as 100 people, including at least 27 children, and wounded hundreds more.
On Tuesday, the White House declassified a report containing evidence from U.S. intelligence and other sources accusing Putin of a cover-up intended to “confuse” and “obfuscate” on behalf of Assad.