Trump 'wanted to kill Assad' after Syria chemical attack
Trump told Fox News that he supported plans being drawn up to kill Assad in response to the killing of around 100 civilians in a sarin attack on Idlib's Khan Sheikhoun.
"I would've rather taken him out. I had him all set. Mattis didn't want to do it. Mattis was a highly overrated general. And I let him go," Trump told Fox & Friends.
"Mattis was against it. Mattis was against most of that stuff."
Trump said he did not regret leaving Assad to live, despite the regime being accused of carrying out another deadly chemical attack a year later.
"I would have lived either way with that," Trump said, but added that Assad was "certainly not a good person".
In 2018, Trump denied a report in Bob Woodward's book Fear that he had told Mattis to "f****** kill" Assad.
"No, that was never even contemplated, nor would it be contemplated and it should not have been written about in the book," the president said in response to Woodward’s allegations in 2018.
Mattis stepped down as defence minister in 2018, after Trump announced American troops would be withdrawn from Syria, a pledge that never came to fruition.
Since then, Trump has made numerous swipes at Mattis and again hit out at the former general in the president’s talk with Fox & Friends on Tuesday.
"To me, he was a terrible general. He was a bad leader, and he wasn't doing the job with ISIS," Trump said. "He was not doing the job in Syria or Iraq with respect to ISIS."
Trump ordered the assassination of Iranian Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani in January, a decision that led to a spike in tensions between the two countries.
The 2017 Khan Sheikhoun massacre led to US airstrikes on a Syrian airbase, while another alleged regime chemical attack in 2018 on the opposition town of Douma also led to retaliatory action from Washington.
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