Trump condemns Syria chemical attack

AP PHOTO
President Donald Trump talks about the attack in Syria during a news conference with Jordan's King Abdullah II, Wednesday, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington.

AP PHOTO President Donald Trump talks about the attack in Syria during a news conference with Jordan's King Abdullah II, Wednesday, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington.

WASHINGTON — His expression grave and his words emphatic, President Donald Trump declared on Wednesday the deadly chemical attack in Syria had crossed “many, many lines” and abruptly changed his views of Syrian President Bashar Assad. But he refused to say what the U.S. might do in response.

Trump issued no ultimatums in comments that were being scoured by world leaders for signs of how the new president would react to a global crisis. In a rare reversal of roles, Trump was more reserved than many of his top advisers — including his U.N. envoy, who revived the hard-hitting rhetoric of Trump’s political campaign and strongly hinted some U.S. action was coming.

“I’m not saying I’m doing anything one way or another, but I’m certainly not going to be telling you,” he told reporters.

He blamed the attack squarely on Assad’s forces, though the embattled Syrian leader and his Russian backers denied it. He suggested that the assault that killed 72 people had diminished his former reluctance to plunge the U.S. further into the complex and dangerous turmoil in the Middle East.

“When you kill innocent children, innocent babies — babies, little babies — with a chemical gas that is so lethal, people were shocked to hear what gas it was, that crosses many, many lines,” Trump said in the White House Rose Garden. U.S. officials said the gas was likely chlorine, with traces of a nerve agent like sarin.