White House national security aide Sebastian Gorka said Tuesday that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad shouldn’t “test” President Trump when it comes to preventing further chemical attacks in Syria.
Gorka told Erin Burnett on CNN’s “OutFront” that a “rational” government in Syria wouldn’t “test the resolve of the president.”
“If the most powerful nation in the world demonstrated to you that we can see what you are doing, wouldn’t you think again about actually executing on that decision?” Gorka said. “I know I would. I wouldn’t test Donald J. Trump.”
White House officials have been pressed about the U.S. strategy on Syria after they said in a statement Monday night that the U.S. had identified potential preparations for a chemical strike by the Assad government. The White House statement warned that Assad and his military would “pay a heavy price” if they conducted such an attack.
Trump’s counterterrorism adviser argued Tuesday evening that the United States’s previous strike on an air base used by the Assad regime in April sent a clear message to the Syrian government, pushing back on a suggestion that it had failed.
“Not at all, because that was more than just a kinetic measure,” Gorka said. “As the vice president stopped me the day after the attack and asked me, ‘Do you think they got the message?’ And I replied to him, ‘Yes Mr. Vice President, the world got the message.'”
Trump ordered a missile strike targeting a Syrian airbase in April after the airfield was allegedly used to carry out a chemical weapons attack that killed dozens of civilians.
“It is in this vital national security interest of the United States to prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons,” Trump said in April in ordering the strike.
“There can be no dispute that Syria used banned chemical weapons.”