In grappling how to address one of its first foreign crises under the new administration, President Trump blamed his predecessor, President Obama, for Syria's worst chemical weapons attack in years, the Associated Press reported. That, however, clashed with statements made by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who assigned blame to Iran and Russia.
In a statement, Trump described the assault in northern Syria "reprehensible" and one that "cannot be ignored by the civilized world." He added that Assad was responsible for carrying out the attacks, but called out Obama's "failed strategy" to deter such attacks in the future.
"These heinous actions by the Bashar al-Assad regime are a consequence of the past administration's weakness and irresolution," Trump said.
WATCH | The White House responds to its first major international crisis.
Critics of Obama's Syria policy pointed to his "red line" speech in 2012 when he warned Assad not to deploy the use of chemical or biological warfare. In 2013, however, Obama failed to deliver on his "red line" in response to a sarin gas attack in 2013 that killed hundreds outside the country's capital, Damascus.
Obama aides declined on Tuesday to comment on Trump's statement.
Comparatively, top diplomat Rex Tillerson took a much difference approach to responding to the Syrian attack. He assigned culpability to Russia and Iran--close allies of Assad.
"Russia and Iran also bear great moral responsibility for these deaths," Tillerson said.
WATCH | A suspected gas attack in northern Syria kills dozens.
Trump's response to the chemical attack not only conflicts with Tillerson's, but it also rebuffs previous comments made by the former business mogul in the past.
For example, in 2013, he tweeted that the U.S. "should stay the hell out of Syria."
We should stay the hell out of Syria, the "rebels" are just as bad as the current regime. WHAT WILL WE GET FOR OUR LIVES AND $ BILLIONS?ZERO— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 16, 2013
President Obama, do not attack Syria. There is no upside and tremendous downside. Save your "powder" for another (and more important) day!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 7, 2013
Trump warned Obama to "not attack Syria."