A woman walks past a poster of Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus [File: Yamam al-Shaar/Reuters]
Syria on Wednesday hit back at President Donald Trump and likened the United States to a “rogue state” after he said he wanted to assassinate Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
“Trump’s admission of such a step confirms that the US administration is a rogue … state,” Syria’s foreign ministry said in a statement carried by state news agency SANA.
“It pursues the same tactics as terrorist groups such as murder and assassination,” it said, a day after Trump made the remarks to the morning show Fox & Friends.
The US president said his then-secretary of defence, Jim Mattis, opposed the assassination of al-Assad in 2017.
“I would have rather taken him out. I had him all set,” Trump said. “Mattis didn’t want to do it. Mattis was a highly overrated general, and I let him go.”
Trump was reportedly mulling assassinating al-Assad after the Syrian president allegedly launched a chemical attack on civilians.
In April 2017, a sarin gas attack on the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun killed more than 80 people.
Trump unleashed missile attacks against the regime’s Shayrat airbase, from which the gas attack was allegedly launched.
Trump’s remarks on Tuesday contradict other comments he made to reporters in the Oval office on September 5, 2018, when he said that killing al-Assad “was never even contemplated”.
In April 2018, the US, France and United Kingdom launched retaliatory attacks after another alleged regime chemical attack on the then rebel-held town of Douma, near Damascus.
After nine years of war, the Assad government controls some 70 percent of Syria.