Trump and Putin clash over Syria chemical weapons attack

Andy Wells
Freelance Writer
Trump and Putin are at odds over the attack in Syria (Getty Images)

The ‘cosy’ relationship between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin is deteriorating in the wake of chemical weapon attacks carried out against civilians in Syria by close Russian ally Bashar Assad.

The President stated that the recent atrocity has forced him to “change his mind” regarding the Syrian leader.

Assad, whose regime is supported by Moscow, is held to be behind the horrific attack, which killed more than 70 people, including women, children and babies.

While Trump has previously said that his focus on Syria would be destroying ISIS rather than overthrowing the Assad regime, the scenes coming from the war torn country have shifted his stance.

This pits his interests against those of the Russian leader, whom Trump had previously described as ‘talented’ and ‘popular’.

Donald Trump has shifted his stance on removing Bashar Assad from power (Rex)

The US President said: “I will tell you that attack on children yesterday had a big impact on me – big impact.

“My attitude toward Syria and Assad has changed very much.

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“You’re now talking about a whole different level.”

Former US eputy national security adviser Nancy Soderbergh said on BBC Newsnight: ‘It’s going to drive a wedge between him [Trump] and President Putin, with whom he’s been ‘un-confusingly’ cosy with.

‘He’s got to come up with a policy that puts America on the right side of history here.’

Trump’s comments come just days after his administration revealed they were focusing on ISIS.

America’s United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley told a press conference: “You pick and choose your battle and when we’re looking at this, it’s about changing up priorities and our priority is no longer to sit there and focus on getting Assad out.

Bashar Assad is believed to be behind the chemical attack on Syrian civilians (Rex)

“We can’t necessarily focus on Assad the way that the previous administration did.

“Our priority is to really look at how do we get things done, who do we need to work with to really make a difference for the people in Syria.”

While criticising the chemical attack at a joint press conference with King Abdullah of Jordan, Trump said that Assad “crossed a lot of lines”.

The chemical attack killed women, children and babies in Syria (Rex)

He added: “When you kill innocent children, innocent babies, babies, little babies, with a chemical gas that is so lethal – people were shocked to hear what gas it was.

“That crosses many, many lines, beyond a red line, many, many lines.”

Trump refused to rule out taking military action in Syria as a result of the attack.

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson also condemned the attack (Rex)

He said: “I’m not saying I’m doing anything one way or another, but I’m certainly not going to be telling you.

“Militarily, I don’t like to say where I’m going and what I’m doing.”

Trump’s change of heart appeared to be echoed by Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who told reporters in Brussels: “Objectively, I simply don’t see how Bashar al-Assad can remain in charge after what he has already done.

“Of the 400,000 who are estimated to have been killed in Syria, he is responsible for the vast majority of that butcher’s bill. And you have to go a long way back in history to find a tyrant who has stayed in office given such circumstances.”

Downing Street insists “nobody is talking” about an armed response to the atrocity.

Top pic: Rex