McCain Blames Trump's Talk of Syria Withdrawal for Deadly Gas Attack

'Emboldened by American inaction, Assad has reportedly launched another chemical attack against innocent men, women and children,' said the senior U.S. Senator

In this file photo taken on April 3, 2018, US President Donald Trump speaks in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington, DC.
AFP PHOTO / Olivier Douliery

Senior U.S. Senator John McCain blasted U.S. President Donald Trump's recent statements vowing to “rapidly” withdraw U.S. troops from Syria. McCain, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, claimed on Sunday that Trump’s comments "emboldened" Syrian President Bashar al-Assad following a reported chemical weapons attack on Saturday that killed over eighty people in and around a hospital.

“President Trump last week signaled to the world that the United States would prematurely withdraw from Syria. Bashar Assad and his Russian and Iranian backers have heard him, and emboldened by American inaction, Assad has reportedly launched another chemical attack against innocent men, women and children, this time in Douma," McCain said in a statement.

He said that Trump should respond with force, as he did following a similar attack at the same time last year. McCain and Trump have often been at odds both personally and on policy, but appeared pleased by Trump’s tweet condemning Assad as an “animal.”

“President Trump was quick to call out Assad today, along with the Russian and Iranian governments, on Twitter,” McCain said.

“The question now is whether he will do anything about it. The President responded decisively when Assad used chemical weapons last year. He should do so again, and demonstrate that Assad will pay a price for his war crimes."