Damascus on Wednesday hit back at Donald Trump and likened the US to a “rogue” state or “terrorist group,” after the US president said he had wanted to assassinate Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad.
“Trump’s admission of such a step confirms that the US administration is a rogue... state,” Syria’s foreign ministry said in a statement carried by state news agency SANA.
“It pursues the same tactics as terrorist groups such as murder and assassination,” it said, one day after Trump made the remarks to the morning show Fox & Friends.
The US president said his then-secretary of defense Jim Mattis opposed the assassination of al-Assad in 2017.
“I would have rather taken him out. I had him all set,” Trump said.
“Mattis didn’t want to do it. Mattis was a highly overrated general, and I let him go.”
Trump was reportedly mulling assassinating al-Assad after the Syrian president allegedly launched a chemical attack on civilians.
In April 2017, a sarin gas attack on the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhun killed more than 80 people.
Trump unleashed missile strikes against the regime’s Shayrat airbase, from where the gas attack was allegedly launched.
However, Trump’s remarks to Fox & Friends contradict other comments he made to reporters in the Oval office on September 5, 2018, when he said that killing Assad “was never even contemplated.”
In April 2018, the US, France and Britain launched retaliatory strikes after another alleged regime chemical attack on the then rebel-held town of Douma, near Damascus.
After nine years of war, the al-Assad government controls some 70 percent of Syria.
The conflict has since 2011 killed at least 380,000 people and displaced around half of Syria’s pre-war population.