Embattled Syrian President Bashar Assad's intentional use of chemical weapons against innocent women and children amounts to behavior worse than that of Adolf Hitler, Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, said on Tuesday.
Speaking with reporters one week after a chemical attack killed 87 civilians and injured over 550 in Idlib province, Spicer said that Assad's tactics were not utilized by Hitler, "who didn't even sink to using chemical weapons.”
“We didn’t use chemical weapons in World War II,” said Spicer, who was explaining US President Donald Trump's decision to draw a red line against the use of chemical weapons. “Someone who is despicable as Hitler who didn't even sink to using chemical weapons. You have to, if you're Russia, ask yourself, is this a country... a regime that you want to align yourself with?”
Asked by a member of the press corps to clarify his remarks, Spicer said that Assad's decision to indiscriminately drop chemical toxins on civilian areas separated him out from other dictators
“I think when you come to sarin gas, there was no — he was not using the gas on his own people the same way that Assad is doing,” Spicer said. “He brought him into the Holocaust center. I understand that. But I’m saying in the way that Assad used them where he went into towns, dropped them down into innocent, into the middle of towns. So the use of it, I appreciate the clarification there. That was not the intent.”
Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi released a statement following the press conference, saying that "Sean Spicer must be fired, and the President must immediately disavow his spokesman's statements."
In response to Spicer's remarks AJC (a global Jewish advocacy organization) CEO David Harris said: “AJC is astonished by White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s comment today that Adolph Hitler did not use chemical weapons. What did the Nazis use to exterminate millions of Jews if not chemicals in their death camps?"
“Any comparisons between Hitler and other dictators, or between the Holocaust and other tragedies, such as Syria, are tricky and not advisable,” said Harris. “The conflict in Syria is horrific, and Assad’s regular use of chemical weapons, decades after they were banned, is abominable. But the uniqueness of the Nazi killing machine’s targeting of one people, Jews, and use of chemical gases to kill them should never be forgotten."
During the war, Hitler rounded up millions of Jews— including Germany's Jewish population— to commit the worst mass murder in recorded human history. His Nazi regime used hydrogen cyanide, a toxin, to gas Jews to death in locked death chambers.
Danielle Ziri contributed to this article.
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