Trump says he did not discuss assassinating Syria's Assad

Trump says he did not discuss assassinating Syria's Assad

According to an excerpt from the book by Washington Post journalist Bob Woodward, the U.S. president told Defense Secretary James Mattis that he meant to assassinate the Syrian leader, after Washington accused the government in Damascus of a suspected chemical weapons attack against the militant-held village of Khan Shaykhun in Syria's northwestern province of Idlib previous year.

Nikki Haley, the USA ambassador to the United Nations, said on Tuesday the UN Security Council would meet on Friday to discuss the precarious situation in the province.

Its president, Tayyip Erdogan, was quoted by a Turkish newspaper saying an attack on Idlib would be "a serious massacre" and he hoped for a positive outcome from a summit with Russian and Iranian leaders on the matter on Friday.

More than half of Idlib is controlled by militants from Syria's former Al-Qaeda affiliate, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), while much of the rest is held by rebels backed by Turkey. The United Nations has said displaced people already make up about half of the 3 million people living in rebel-held areas of the northwest.

Since May 2017, Idlib has been protected by a partial ceasefire following a de-escalation agreement between Turkey, Iran, and Russian Federation.

"I said NEITHER, never used those terms on anyone, including Jeff, and being a southerner is a GREAT thing". Two Russian Sukhoi-34 planes on Tuesday wiped out a workshop of Jabhat al-Nusra (outlawed in Russia) in Syria's Idlib province where the militants were making attack drones and kept explosives in store.

Friday's summit in Tehran between key power brokers Erdogan, Putin and Iran's President Hassan Rouhani is expected to determine the scope and timing of any assault on Idlib.

Peskov took issue with Trump's warning, saying the situation could have "dangerous, negative" consequences for the entire country.

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Trump insisted he "never used those terms on anyone, including Jeff", adding that "being a southerner is a GREAT thing". Trump did not speak to Woodward until after the book's manuscript was completed.

De Mistura said there were about 10,000 fighters with UN-recognized terrorist organizations now in Idlib.

"We have made very clear that by putting out innuendo that somehow any chemical weapon use coming up in the future could be ascribed to the opposition, well, we want to see the data", Mattis said.

"We have zero intelligence that shows the opposition has any chemical capability", Mattis said.

Mr Trump delivered the furious rant to James Mattis, who said he would "get right on it" before planning a limited airstrike that did not target Mr Assad personally, according to Watergate reporter Bob Woodward in his new book "Fear: Trump in the White House".

Rescue workers accused regime forces of killing more than 40 people with "poisonous chlorine gas" in the town of Douma in April.

The United States will not hesitate to take retaliatory action if Assad and his allies employ chemical weapons against civilians, the White House said.

The United States, France and Britain carried out punitive strikes in response.

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