Trump wanted Assad assassinated, says explosive new book
US President Donald Trump wanted to have Syrian President Bashar al-Assad assassinated last year, according to an explosive new book by veteran journalist Bob Woodward.
Defence Secretary Jim Mattis reportedly ignored the request, a practice the book said was widespread to limit what Trump aides saw as dangerous measures.
The book, Fear: Trump in the White House, will be released on 11 September. Excerpts from the book were published by the Washington Post on Tuesday.
“It’s just another bad book,” Trump told the Daily Caller in response to news reports about its contents.
The book says Trump told Mattis to have Assad assassinated after the Syrian regime launched another chemical attack on civilians in April 2017.
""Let’s f*cking kill him! Let’s go in. Let’s kill the f*cking lot of them," he reportedly said.
Mattis vowed to "get right on it," but quietly worked on a plan for limited airstrikes that did not threaten the Syrian regime. During a separate incident, Mattis reportedly said Trump behaved like a "fifth- or sixth-grader".
Nike Haley, the US ambassador to the UN, also denied Trump requested to assassinate Assad.
“I have the pleasure of being privy to those conversations ... and I have not once heard the president talk about assassinating Assad,” she told reporters.
On Monday, Trump warned Assad against launching an attack on Idlib with the help of Russia and Iran, saying the offensive could trigger a "human tragedy".
Syria's war began in 2011 when the Baath regime responded to peaceful protests demanding democratic reforms during the Arab Spring wave of uprisings with military force.
It triggered an armed rebellion fuelled by mass defections from the Syrian army.
According to independent monitors, hundreds of thousands of civilians have been killed in the war, mostly by the regime and its powerful allies. Millions more have been displaced both inside and outside of Syria.
The brutal tactics pursued mainly by the regime - which have included the use of chemical weapons, sieges, mass executions and torture against civilians - have led to war crimes investigations.
Agencies contributed to this report.