US President Donald Trump said on Tuesday that he planned assassinating the Syrian leader, Bashar al-Assad in 2017, but his then-secretary of defense Jim Mattis opposed the plan.
“I would have rather taken him out. I had him all set,” Trump told reporters.
“Mattis didn’t want to do it. Mattis was a highly overrated general, and I let him go.
The revelations support news that came out in 2018 when Washington Post journalist Bob Woodward published his book “Fear: Trump in the White House” and which the president denied at the time.
“That was never even contemplated,” Trump had told reporters then.
Trump’s Tuesday remarks came as part of a castigation against Mattis, whom the president hailed when he hired him to run the Pentagon, but soured on the retired general who eventually resigned in late 2018.
Trump was contemplating assassinating Assad after the chemical attack on civilians in April 2017.
The US leader said American forces should “go in” and “kill” Assad, Woodward reported in his book.
The journalist wrote that Mattis told Trump he would “get right on it” but returned with plans for a more limited airstrike.
Trump told Fox he did not regret the decision not to target Assad, saying he “could have lived either way with that.”
“I considered him certainly not a good person, but I had a shot to take him out if I wanted and Mattis was against it,” Trump said.
“Mattis was against most of that stuff.”