Jim Mattis stopped Donald Trump from killing Syria’s Bashar al-Assad?

Donald Trump

Donald Trump

Donald Trump, 74, ordered the Pentagon to assassinate the Syria’s 19th and incumbent president Bashar al-Assad, 55, after a chemical attack on civilians on April 4, 2017, Bob Woodward, 77, claimed in his book “Fear.” The 45th president United States denied the claim after the book’s publication in 2018.

Trump described “Fear” as fiction and told journalists that the assassination of al-Assad “was never contemplated nor would it be contemplated.” But in an interview with “Fox & Friends” on September 15, 2020, the incumbent U.S. president admitted to wanting to assassinate the Syrian leader but then U.S. secretary of defense James Norman “Jim” Mattis, 70, was against it.

“I would have rather taken him out,” Trump said of al-Assad. “I had him all set. Mattis didn’t want to do it. Mattis was against most of that stuff.”

Woodward wrote in “Fear” that Mattis acknowledged Trump’s request to have al-Assad assassinated. However, the then U.S. secretary of defense turned to an aide and said he would not do “any of that,” according to Woodward.

A retired U.S. Marine Corps general, Mattis served as the U.S. secretary of defense from January 20, 2017 to January 1, 2019. He is the 26th person to hold the position and was succeeded by Mark Esper, 56.

Mattis spent 44 years in the U.S. Marine Corps. He resigned as the U.S. secretary of defense after failing to change Trump’s decision to withdraw all American troops from Syria.


Al-Assad has been serving as the president of Syria since July 17, 2000. He succeeded his late father Hafez al-Assad who held the position from March 12, 1971 to his death on June 10, 2000.

Born and raised in Damascus, Syria, Bashar earned his medical degree from Damascus University in 1988. In 1992, he went to London, England, United Kingdom for his postgraduate studies at the Western Eye Hospital and specialized in ophthalmology.

In 1994, Bashar returned to Syria to take over the role of his brother Bassel al-Assad, who died in a car crash. In 1998, Bashar took charge of  the Syrian military presence in Lebanon.

On April 4, 2017, at least 89 people were killed and more than 541 others were injured in a chemical attack on the town of Khan Shaykhun in the Idlib Governorate of Syria. On April 7, 2020, the U.S. launched 59 cruise missiles at Shayrat Air Base in Shayrat, Homs Governorate, Syria, which was the source of the chemical attack on Khan Shaykhun, according to U.S. intelligence.

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