(INTELLIHUB) — It seems as if the Trump Administration can not land on the same page when it comes to Syria as members of the administration are calling for different ways to approach the Assad regime after last week’s chemical attack.
In an interview with the New York Post on Tuesday, President Donald Trump said that the U.S. would not be sending troops into Syria in response to the chemical attack in the Idlib province last week and that the administration’s policy has not changed.
“We’re not going into Syria,” Trump told the NY Post. “Our policy is the same — it hasn’t changed.”
Trump said that “Our big mission is getting rid of ISIS,” and that is the way it has always been.
The President called Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad a “butcher” and a “barbarian” as his administration considers Assad guilty for the sarin gas attack last week.
Despite his UN Ambassador claiming that regime change in Syria is a priority for the administration, Trump claimed that the strike on a Syrian airfield in response to the chemical attack was not the start of a campaign to oust Assad. He described the attack, which involved over 50 tomahawk cruise missiles launched from two U.S. Navy destroyers as “an act of humanity.”
When asked about Russia’s response to the chemical attack and whether or not there was still a possibility of cooperation over Syria with Vladimir Putin, Trump made clear that friction between both the U.S. and Russia exists and that maybe it is time that Putin view Assad through the same lens his administration peers through.
“We’re not exactly on the same wavelength with Russia, to put it mildly,” Trump said. “Putin must see what a barbarian this guy is, and it’s a very bad symbol for Russia with this guy gassing children and using barrel bombs.”
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met with Russian officials on Wednesday with a message from western powers that Russia should withdraw its support for Assad.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov slammed the Trump Administration’s “ambiguous and contradictory” foreign policy at the beginning of Wednesday’s talks and called the idea of pulling support for Assad “absurd.” Lavrov also said that Russia believes “it’s fundamentally important not to let these actions happen again,” presumably speaking about the U.S. airstrikes on Syria last Thursday.
According to Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, there is a possibility that Putin and Tillerson will meet if the talks between the two top diplomats show a need to “report to the head of state.”
It’s “quite absurd” to demand that Russia abandon Assad as this would mean ending support for his forces that are fighting against Islamic State and other terrorist groups in Syria, Peskov said.
Putin said during a Wednesday interview that he believes the Trump Administration has failed to smooth out U.S. – Russian relations post-Obama.
“One could say that the level of trust on a working level, especially on the military level, has not improved but has rather deteriorated,” Putin said in an interview with the Mir TV channel just a Tillerson was sitting down with the Russian Foreign Minister. The Russian President would double down in the countries support for the Assad, repeating denials that Assad’s government was to blame for the gas attack last week and that the attack may have been faked by Assad’s enemies.
Putin and Trump are yet to meet face to face for discussions on the newly ignited tensions between the both countries.