“Al Qaeda is a member and a very strong member and really pushing the rebels, so now what we are going to be doing if we do this is funding al Qaeda, which is just what we’ve been doing,” said Trump, citing Islamist elements in the opposition forces.
Trump’s comments come as calls from lawmakers to take action against Assad’s regime intensified after the White House said last week that it had evidence chemical weapons had been used. Obama had warned that such an action would invite a U.S. response, but last week the administration said it needed more time to continue gathering evidence.
Lawmakers from both parties on Sunday expressed support for doing more to aid friendly elements within the broad anti-Assad Syrian coalition, but the administration has concerns weapons could fall into the hands of radical anti-American groups.
Trump said that the U.S. had pumped enough money into the Middle East, with lackluster diplomatic results.
“This is just ridiculous and it’s gotten to a point where we’re spending, as an example, in Iraq $1.5 trillion,” said Trump. “We’ve got nothing.”
“In the old days, to the victor belong the spoils, we take some oil, we pay ourselves back at a minimum, where you just take it where you take some oil, now we get nothing,” he continued.
Asked if he agreed with Obama’s stance on Syria, Trump responded: “the rebels are being led by al Qaeda, I don’t think you have to say much more.”
“From a human rights standpoint, from a human standpoint we’ve been through this before,” Trump said. “Who knows what weapons they have, who really knows what weapons they have? But wouldn’t you think maybe it’s time to stay out of one of these?”