Trump Wanted to Bomb Russian & Iranian Targets Amid Syria Strikes – Report
President Donald Trump reportedly favored bombing Russian and Iranian targets in Syria, before Pentagon chief James Mattis talked the US leader out of it.
Trump discussed three military options for Syria last week with his revamped national security team, led by Bush-era hawk John Bolton, the Wall Street Journal reported on Saturday, citing sources familiar with White House decision-making.
The least expansive option included striking “a narrow set of targets”linked to what the report said were “Syria’s chemical weapons capabilities.” The second option proposed targeting a broader set of Syrian targets, including “suspected chemical-weapons research facilities and military command centers.”
Finally, the most aggressive proposal might have included bombing Russian air defenses in Syria, in order to “cripple the regime’s military capabilities without touching [President Bashar] Assad’s political machinery.”
The latter option, which would have been three times as powerful as the one eventually carried out by the US, the UK and France, was reportedly particularly favored by Trump, pressing his team to consider strikes on Russian and Iranian targets in Syria. The US president was willing to go that far to “get at the Assad regime’s military equipment.”
Defense Secretary Mattis, a retired Marine general who gained notoriety during the 2004 siege of Fallujah in Iraq, took a more reasonable stance on the strikes. He argued that hitting Russian or Iranian targets could trigger a dangerous response from Moscow and Tehran, sources told the newspaper.
However, even newly-appointed National Security Adviser Bolton, who called for Iran to be bombed and who has promoted a muscular policy towards North Korea, did not oppose Mattis’ reasoning. According to WSJ, he realized that “the most robust option might drag the US more deeply into the conflict” and felt “that was too much for his first week on the job.”