- US president gave the order after the attack on Khan Sheikhoun killed dozens
- Defense Secretary James Mattis instead drew up plans for military strikes
WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump wanted to have Syrian President Bashar Assad assassinated last year after a chemical attack on civilians, according to a new book.
The revelation appears in excerpts of the book “Fear”, written by famed Watergate reporter Bob Woodward, which were published in the Washington Post.
According to the book, Trump told Defense Secretary Jim Mattis that he wanted to have the Syrian president killed after the chemical weapons attack in April 2017. The strike on Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib province killed dozens of civilians and the footage of poisoned children struggling to breathe shocked the world.
Mattis told Trump he would “get right on it,” but instead developed a plan for an air strike that did not threaten Assad personally, the book claims.
A few days after the chemical attack, the US carried out a missile strike against a Syrian regime airbase. It marked the first time the White House had ordered direct military action against Assad’s forces in the then six year war.
Barack Obama has been heavily criticized for American inaction on Syria and for backing away from his “red line” on the use of chemical weapons as a justification for a US military intervention.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment on this or other aspects of the excerpts, Reuters reported. The Pentagon also declined to comment.