U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has revisited some comments that he has made previously, saying that former President Barack Obama “invited” Russian military intervention in Syria.
Pompeo made the comments during an interview with the Wichita Eagle on Oct. 24 in which he also said the former president had actively worked with the Russian leadership on Syria during his time in office.
The former Kansas Congressman said Obama had welcomed in Russian intervention by having them “come in and pretend to be chemical weapons inspectors.”
He told reporters: “From my time in Congress, I remember who invited the Russians into Syria. It was President Barack Obama. I mean, he didn’t just let them come in, he invited them in.”
Pompeo continued: “He had them come in and pretend to be chemical weapons inspectors. He actively worked with the Russian leadership, said ‘no, come on in, come on into Syria.’”
The Secretary of State said the Trump administration has taken a “very different approach” in the Middle East to bring more stability to the region.
He added that he stands by President Trump’s recent decision to lift U.S. sanctions imposed on Turkey after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan agreed to stop attacks against the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its forces in northeast Syria.
Pompeo said: “I recommended that to the President. Vice President Pence had led a delegation. I was part of it, where we went and laid out for President Erdoğan the fact that we were against what he had done, the President was very unhappy that he conducted an incursion into Syria. We wanted to stop that incursion to save lives. We did that.”
When asked if he believes Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S troops from northeastern Syria had “undercut U.S. credibility,” Pompeo vehemently disagreed, describing the premise as “insane.”
He said: “The whole predicate of your question is insane. The word the United States is much more respected today than it was just two and a half years ago.”
Referring back to the work of Obama’s administration in Syria, Pompeo said Obama had “ignored” the escalating threats in regard to chemical weapons.
Syrian president Bashar Assad’s Arab Socialist Ba’ath regime admitted to possessing chemical weapons in early July 2012.
The following month, Obama told reporters that the use of chemical weapons in the conflict in Syria would be deemed as crossing a “red line” and would have “enormous consequences.”
In August 2013, the Syrian opposition accused Assad of using toxic gases during attacks in Eastern Ghouta and Mausamiyat al-Cham near Damascus.
The attack reportedly killed more than 1,700 people, many of whom were children.
Despite his previous threats and initially signaling of airstrike plans, Obama instead agreed to a U.S.-Russian deal with Assad’s forces to dismantle Syria’s chemical weapons.
Speaking of Obama’s decision, Pompeo said: “The previous administration said, ‘Boy, if you use chemical weapons that’s going to be bad,’ and the president drew a red line, President Obama drew a red line. He then duly ignored it.
“This president said, ‘If you use chemical weapons, I’m going to take action.’ And we fired Tomahawk missiles, to take down that threat to let them know that the cost of violating this, this massive violation of human dignity, these massive human rights violations by using chemical weapons, that there would be a cost imposed for that.”
Pompeo had accused Obama of “inviting” the Russians to intervene in Syria in 2017.
At the Aspen Security Forum in July of that year, the then-CIA Director also said Obama had the Russians come in and “solve the chemical weapon problem.”
“That’s not a political statement, it’s a factual observation,” he added.