Trump Blames Obama for Syria Chemical Attack
He cites failure to enforce 'red line' after chemical attack
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 5, 2017 5:27 AM CDT
Updated Apr 5, 2017 6:46 AM CDT
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Turkish experts evacuate a victim of a suspected chemical weapons attacks in the Syrian city of Idlib at a local hospital in Reyhanli, Turkey, on Tuesday.   (DHA-Depo Photos via AP)
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(Newser) – An apparent chemical attack that killed scores of people Tuesday is being called one of the worst atrocities of the Syrian civil war—and President Trump blames his predecessor. The "heinous" actions of the Assad regime "are a consequence of the past administration's weakness and irresolution," Trump said in a statement, per NBC News. "President Obama said in 2012 that he would establish a 'red line,' against the use of chemical weapons and then did nothing." Syrian activists say at least 72 people, including many children, were killed in a regime airstrike on a rebel-held town in Idlib province. In other developments:

  • Russia's Ministry of Defense claimed the deaths were the result of an airstrike on a "terrorist" chemical weapons workshop in the town of Khan Sheikhoun, CNN reports. The Syrian government also blamed rebels for the deaths and denied involvement in the airstrike.

  • The US, Britain, and France are pushing the United Nations Security Council to adopt a resolution condemning the attack and ordering the Syrian government to provide international investigators with information, including flight logs, the New York Times reports.
  • Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said it was clear the attack involved chemical weapons and accused the Assad regime of "barbarism," NBC News reports. "Those who defend and support him, including Russia and Iran, should have no illusions about Assad or his intentions," Tillerson said in a statement. "Anyone who uses chemical weapons to attack his own people shows a fundamental disregard for human decency and must be held accountable."
  • Turkey's health minister says 30 Syrians were taken across the border for treatment and that they showed symptoms of a chemical attack, according to reports in the Turkish media. Harrowing photos and videos from the scene showed piles of dead children.
  • Hassan Haj Ali, commander of the Free Idlib Army rebel group, tells Reuters that Russia's claim rebels are responsible is a lie, and that opposition forces in the area don't have the capacity to produce chemical weapons. He says many people saw the plane bomb the area with gas.
  • The Washington Post calls Trump's statement blaming Obama "puzzling," especially in light of Trump tweets from 2013 in which he urged Obama not to enforce his "red line" against Syria after a chemical attack.
  • The attack is believed to have involved sarin gas, which has been used before in Syria. Chemical weapons expert Colonel Hamish de Bretton-Gordon tells the BBC that Russia's version of events is "pretty fanciful" and that it's hard to believe that a gas like sarin would have spread after a strike on manufacturing facilities. The British government is among those that have condemned the attack as a war crime.
  • Syrian activists say the town was hit by more airstrikes Wednesday, the AP reports. They say rescue workers are still finding terrified survivors sheltering near the scene of Tuesday's attack.

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