Speed Reads

Crisis in Syria

Trump blamed Obama for Syria's chemical gas attack. The nightly news has some helpful context.

The United Nations Security Council has scheduled a Wednesday morning emergency session to discuss what appears to be a Syrian government nerve gas attack on a rebel-held area of Idlib province, which killed at least 58 people, including 11 children, and wounded hundreds more. France and Britain called the meeting, as international condemnation grows. Chemical weapons use is banned under the Geneva Conventions, and using such weapons on civilians would be a clear war crime.

President Trump on Tuesday condemned the chemical attack, saying in a statement that it was "reprehensible and cannot be ignored by the civilized world." But he also blamed former President Barack Obama, saying the "heinous actions by the Bashar al-Assad regime are a consequence of the past administration's weakness and irresolution," citing Obama's 2012 "red line" comment and failure to attack Syria in August 2013 when Assad used chemical weapons on his people. (Lacking the votes in Congress to strike and unwilling to do so without congressional approval, Obama agreed to a Russian plan to destroy Assad's chemical weapons stock.)

On Tuesday's CBS Evening News, anchor Scott Pelley provided some more context, noting pointedly that "the attack came five days after the Trump administration signaled that the Syrian dictator would not be held accountable for the slaughter of his people."

On ABC World News Tonight, David Muir and Jonathan Karl elaborated on what Trump and his secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, changed policy-wise about Assad and Syria, and noted that Trump's only in-person comment on Tuesday was that he doesn't want to be "president of the world." This report includes footage that Muir notes is "difficult to see":

At CNN Tuesday evening, Amara Walker and Michael Holmes pointed out that despite Trump's new complaints about Obama's military inaction in late summer 2013, he publicly urged Obama not to attack Syria at the time.

Russia and Syria blame the gas attack on Syrian airstrikes that hit a rebel munitions store which Russia's defense ministry said Wednesday included "a workshop for the production of land mines filled with poisonous substances." Rebels say Syria has been hitting them with chlorine gas and other chemical weapons for weeks now.

There is still no indication what the president of the United States plans to do about Syria and its brutal leader.