Just a few hours before President Donald Trump announced that the U.S. had launched 59 cruise missiles on an airfield in Syria, his former campaign rival Hillary Clinton suggested doing just that.
In an interview with New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof at the Women in the World conference in Manhattan, Clinton responded to a deadly chemical attack in Syria earlier this week that intelligence agencies have blamed on the country’s President Bashar Assad.
“Assad has an air force, and that air force is the cause of most of these civilian deaths,” Clinton said. “And I really believe that we should have and still should take out his air fields and prevent him from being able to use them to bomb innocent people and drop sarin gas on them.”
In the first direct American assault against the Assad regime, Trump ordered the launch of 59 Tomahawk missiles Thursday targeting the Shayrat airfield in Homs, western Syria. The decision was made in response to the chemical attack that killed at least 80 people, many of whom were children.
The chemical attack, for which Assad’s government has denied responsibility, was the worst such strike in years and elicited outrage from the international community. Experts and U.S. officials believe the chemical used was sarin.
Clinton, who served as Secretary of State under former President Barack Obama, has long spoken in support of increased intervention against the Assad regime. Trump has often demonstrated a less coherent strategy, first opposing intervention, and later criticizing Obama for failing to enforce what he called the “red line” crossed by the use of chemical agents.
Just hours before the chemical attack on Tuesday, Trump’s Ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley, told reporters that the U.S. did not support regime change in Syria, a position that has shifted in the wake of this week’s fatal events.