Syrian-American doctors: Raising money to lobby Trump in person led to policy change

Syrian-American doctors: Raising money to lobby Trump in person led to policy change
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A small group of Syrian-American doctors said their strategy to lobby President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump directed Cohen to lie to Congress about plans to build Trump Tower in Moscow during 2016 campaign: report DC train system losing 0k per day during government shutdown Senate Republicans eye rules change to speed Trump nominees MORE in person to take a more aggressive stance on Syria in person was successful.

One member of the group, Rim Albezem, spoke to the president at an event in Indiana after the group raised tens of thousands of dollars to get her and another member into a room with Trump to plead with him in person to take action, according to The Wall Street Journal

In Indiana, Albezem gave an impassioned speech urging Trump to stop Syrian President Bashar al Assad and his allies from assaulting the Idlib province, which the Journal says the president has twice cited as a turning point in his thinking.

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"I was at a meeting with lots of supporters and a woman stood up and she said there is a province in Syria with 3 million people right now,” Mr. Trump told reporters covering September’s United Nations General Assembly, according to the Journal. “The Iranians, Russians and Syrians are surrounding that province and they are going to kill my sister and kill millions of people in order to get rid of 25,000 or 30,000 terrorists.”

"I said: 'That's not going to happen,'" Trump added.

Days after Albezem and Trump met, the president issued a tweet warning Assad not to attack the remaining rebel stronghold in Idlib.

He also told his aides to rally international support for another strike in Syria against the Assad regime if it used chemical weapons, the Journal reports.

The Wall Street Journal previously reported that the president privately threatened to retaliate with a massive assault if Assad used chemical weapons.

Members of the administration had indicated that the White House may use military force if Assad had employed chemical weapons in Idlib.

Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoTrump cancels delegation's trip to Davos amid shutdown China 'not worried in the slightest' about concern over Canadian's death sentence The Hill's Morning Report — Shutdown fallout — economic distress MORE said late last month that the U.S. wouldn't rule out "a single thing" when it came to holding "accountable those that are responsible" for the use of chemical weapons.

The chairman of the Joint Chieffs of Staff, Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, also indicated that Trump had been presented with military options to deal with the situation.

“What Rim has done is powerful,” Mouaz Mustafa, a leading Syrian-American activist in Washington since 2011, told the Journal.

“She was able to bring attention to the president of the United States about an impending humanitarian crisis he was unaware of," Mouaz said. "The president understood the dangers—and did something about it because of Rim’s advocacy.”