Brendan Smialowski / AFP / Getty Images
President Trump condemned Syrian president Bashar al-Assad as “truly an evil person,” and slammed Russia's backing of him following last week's chemical weapons attack, during an interview with Fox Business that aired Wednesday morning.
He added that he didn't intend to send the US military to the country, even though there are troops already operating there.
“Frankly, Putin is backing a person thats truly an evil person. I think it's very bad for Russia, very bad for mankind, and very bad for this world,” Trump said.
“When you drop gas and barrel bombs, and have these massive barrels with dynamite and drop them right in the middle of a group of people, and you see the same kids with no arms, no legs, and no face — this is an animal.”
However, he said there are no plans for an increase in the US military presence in Syria, despite ordering airstrikes there on Thursday.
“We’re not going into Syria … 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 [Defense Secretary] General Mattis,” he said.
“If Russia didn’t go in and back this animal, you wouldn’t have a problem right now,” he added.
BuzzFeed News has previously reported that US forces are already operating in Syria, however. Last month, US forces aided local troops in a surprise attack on ISIS, but the Pentagon said they were just “advising.”
It was also reported that US troops had begun moving into the north of the country and were setting up an outpost just outside Raqqa, the de facto capital city of ISIS.
In the interview, Trump partly blamed his predecessor, Barack Obama, for the situation in Syria, saying: “What I did should have been done by the Obama administration a long time before I did it. I think Syria would be a lot better off right now than it has been.”
Following another chemical attack in 2013, Trump repeatedly tweeted saying Obama should “stay out” of Syria, and that it would cause civilian casualties and make Obama and the US look “very bad.”
Trump's condemnation of Syria and Russia during the Fox Business interview came the same day that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow.
In remarks before the meeting, Lavrov described the US airstrikes last week as “an unlawful attack against Syria” and said Russia believes “it’s fundamentally important not to let these actions happen again.”
Tillerson said he was seeking to “clarify areas of common interest, even when our tactical approaches may be different … and to further clarify any areas of sharp difference, as well as why these differences exist, and what the prospect of narrowing these distances might be.”