US President Donald Trump has disclosed that he was in favour of assassinating Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad back in 2017 but former Defence Secretary Jim Mattis stopped him.
Speaking on Fox & Friends yesterday, Trump confirmed claims made by journalist Bob Woodward in his 2018 book Fear: Trump in the White House, in spite of publicly denied this at the time, stating in a White House briefing that killing Al-Assad was “never discussed”.
“I would have rather taken him out. I had him all set,” Trump told the Fox News morning talk show. “Mattis didn’t want to do it. Mattis was a highly overrated general, and I let him go.”
“To me he was a terrible general; he was a bad leader,” Trump added.
— Rana Abtar – رنا أبتر (@Ranaabtar) September 15, 2020
Trump was also asked whether he regretted his decision not to kill President Al-Assad, and whether his decision was motivated by Russian military support for Syria, to which he answered: “No, I don’t regret that. I could’ve lived either way with that. But I had a shot to take him out if I wanted, and Mattis was against it. Mattis was against most of that stuff.”
Despite repeated assertions made by Trump that he and his predecessor Barack Obama fired him, Mattis resigned from his position in protest over Trump’s decision to pull troops from Syria. He also ended his tenure under Obama earlier than expected, allegedly over disagreements on Iran.
Ahead of the US elections in November, Trump has also vowed to threaten Iran with a response “1,000 times greater” to any attack by the Islamic Republic amid US intelligence claims that Iran had plotted to assassinate a US diplomat. Tehran has dismissed this as propaganda.