- REUTERS/Mark Ralston/Pool
Donald Trump said during the final presidential debate on Wednesday that Syrian President Bashar Assad is “much tougher and much smarter” than President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.
The international community widely considers Assad to be a brutal dictator who barrel bombs and starves civilians in his country.
“Take a look at Aleppo,” the Republican presidential nominee said in response to a question about the besieged city in Syria. “It is so sad when you see what’s happened. And a lot of this is because of Hillary Clinton. Because what’s happened is by fighting Assad, who turned out to be a lot tougher than she thought, and now she’s gonna say, ‘Oh, he loves Assad.'”
Trump continued: “He’s just much tougher and much smarter than her and Obama. And everyone thought he was gone two years ago, three years ago. He aligned with Russia, he now also aligned with Iran, who we made very powerful.”
Trump did later concede that Assad is a “bad guy.”
“If they ever did overthrow Assad, you might end up with as bad as Assad is, and he’s a bad guy,” he said. “But you may very well end up with worse than Assad.”
Trump then pivoted to the refugee crisis, which the Syrian civil war has contributed greatly to.
“She’s taking in tens of thousands of Syrian refugees who probably, in many cases, not probably, who are definitely, in many cases, ISIS-aligned, and we now have them in our country, and wait ’til you see, this is going to be the great Trojan horse, and wait ’til you see what happens in the coming years,” he said. “Lots of luck, Hillary, thanks a lot for doing a great job.”
Later on, Trump said the US is “so outplayed” by Russian President Putin and Assad and that “nobody can believe how stupid our leadership is.”