POLITICS
04/11/2017 06:50 pm ET

Trump Opposed Striking Syria In 2013 But Now Says Obama Should Have Done It

Trump also insists that the U.S. won't be "going into Syria."

President Donald Trump said Tuesday that he would not be putting boots on the ground in Syria, trying to tamp down concern that the recent U.S. airstrike against President Bashar Assad’s forces was a precursor to greater involvement.

“We’re not going into Syria,” Trump told Fox Business Network. “But when I see people using horrible, horrible chemical weapons ― which they agreed not to use under the Obama administration, but they violated it. ... What I did should’ve been done by the Obama administration a long time before I did it. And you would’ve ― I think Syria would’ve been a lot better off than it has been.”

Despite his comments Tuesday, Trump repeatedly advocated against President Barack Obama intervening in Syria in 2013. 

In August 2013, the Assad regime allegedly carried out a sarin gas attack that killed 1,400 Syrians. Obama appeared ready to respond quickly with limited airstrikes, a variation of what Trump did, but he failed to secure enough international and domestic support for the action. A turning point was when the British Parliament voted down the United Kingdom’s participation, leading Obama to decide that he also needed to secure congressional approval. But when a successful vote appeared doubtful, the White House dropped the airstrike plans.

Obama also worried about whether a limited strike would truly damage Assad’s regime and about the consequences of starting down the slippery slope to deeper involvement.

The Trump administration has been having its own struggles on Syria and what to do next. On Sunday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said last week’s strike “was related solely to the most recent horrific use of chemical weapons,” while U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley stated on television, “There’s not any sort of option where a political solution is going to happen with Assad at the head of the regime.”

In 2013, Trump also said Obama needed to go before Congress to get approval before striking Syria. Trump did not do this for last week’s strike.

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