Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) has called on President Donald Trump to “take out” Syrian President Bashar Assad and his inner circle, calling them “legitimate military targets” following a chemical weapons attack in the city of Douma.
“I now think he is a legitimate war criminal in the eyes of the international community,” Graham said on “Fox and Friends.” “And that Assad and his inner circle should be considered war criminals, legitimate military targets.”
“If you have the opportunity to take him out, you should.”
Graham implied a lack of military action by President Trump in response to the chemical attack would embolden nations like Iran, Russia and North Korea.
“The world is watching the president. Iran is watching the president. Russia is watching the president. And North Korea is watching the president,” he said. “This president has the chance to do exactly the opposite of Obama – send a strong signal that there’s a new sheriff in town and America’s back.”
Graham made similar comments to ABC, suggesting a lack of military action would make President Trump look weak in upcoming talks with North Korea.
“He has challenged Assad in the past not to use chemical weapons,” Graham said. “If it becomes a tweet without meaning, then he’s hurt himself in North Korea. I he doesn’t follow through and live up to that tweet, he’s going to look weak in the eyes of and Russia and Iran.”
Democratic Senator Ben Cardin of Maryland also referred to Syrian President Assad as a war criminal, calling for an “international response” to the chemical attack.
In the immediate aftermath of the attack, Syria’s state-run SANA news agency reported a missile strike on the government’s T4 military air base in Homs province. Russia and Syria have blamed Israel for the attack that reportedly left at least 14 people dead.
In a tweet Sunday night, President Trump leveled blame for the chemical weapons attack on the Syrian government, as well as Iran and Russia for backing “Animal Assad’s” regime, and promised “a big price to pay” for the attack.
Many dead, including women and children, in mindless CHEMICAL attack in Syria. Area of atrocity is in lockdown and encircled by Syrian Army, making it completely inaccessible to outside world. President Putin, Russia and Iran are responsible for backing Animal Assad. Big price…
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 8, 2018