Trump says if Assad forces slaughter civilians the world and the US will get very angry

President Trump has warned Syria that the United States would be “very angry” if forces loyal to Bashar al-Assad slaughter civilians in the country’s last rebel-held province.

“I think it’s a very sad situation in Idlib, the province, what’s going on there,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office on Wednesday as he met the Emir of Kuwait. “If it’s a slaughter, the world is going to get very, very angry. And the United States is going to get very angry, too.”

Trump’s comments came after Russian and Syrian warplanes resumed airstrikes against insurgents in the densely populated enclave.

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The bombardment began just hours after Trump warned on Twitter that Assad “must not recklessly attack Idlib Province”.

Representatives of Russia, Turkey and Iran are to meet in Tehran on Friday for a summit which has been described by Ankara as a “last chance to avoid a massacre”. More than 3 million people live in the province, nearly a third of whom were internally displaced there during the country’s seven-year war.

The White House on Tuesday threatened military intervention if the Syrian government used chemical weapons.

“Let us be clear, it remains our firm stance that if President Bashar al-Assad chooses to again use chemical weapons, the United States and its Allies will respond swiftly and appropriately,” the White House said in a statement on Tuesday.

Trump on Wednesday also denied that he wanted to assassinate Assad – one of the many shocking claims made in a new book by the acclaimed Washington Post journalist Bob Woodward.

 

“That was never even contemplated,” Trump said. “Nor would it be contemplated.”

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After the Syrian government launched a chemical attack on civilians in April 2017, Trump reportedly called his defense secretary, Jim Mattis, and said he wanted to kill Assad, according to Woodward’s Fear: Trump in the White House.

“Let’s fucking kill him! Let’s go in. Let’s kill the fucking lot of them,” Trump reportedly said.

Mattis, according to the book, assured the president he would look into it but told a senior aide: “We’re not going to do any of that. We’re going to be much more measured.”

The national security team ultimately presented Trump with options for airstrikes, which he ordered. Mattis has called the book a work of “fiction”.