U.S. President Donald Trump attacked Iran and the Hizballah militia that it backs in Syria and Lebanon, blaming them for creating a "humanitarian catastrophe" and threatening peace throughout the region.
"Hizballah is a menace to the Lebanese state, the Lebanese people, and the entire region," Trump said at a White House news conference with visiting Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri on July 25.
"The group continues to increase its military arsenal, which threatens to start yet another conflict with Israel," Trump said. "With the support of Iran, the organization is also fueling humanitarian catastrophe in Syria."
Hizballah's "true interests are those of itself and its sponsor, Iran," Trump said.
Trump said former President Barack Obama should have taken action against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his allies Iran and Hizballah after he drew a "red line in the sand" against Assad's alleged use of chemical weapons early in the six-year civil war.
"Had president Obama gone across that line and done what he should have done, I don't believe you'd have Russia, and I don't believe you'd have Iran, anywhere near the extent and maybe not at all, in Syria today," Trump said.
Trump, who ordered cruise-missile strikes against a Syrian air base after Assad's last alleged use of chemical weapons in April, said he won't stand idle if Assad tries using such weapons again.
"I am not somebody that will stand by and let him get away with what he tried to do," he said. "I'm no fan of Assad. I certainly think that what he's done to that country and to humanity is horrible."
Trump made his remarks as he pledged solidarity and support for Lebanon as it deals with the influx of thousands of refugees from the Syrian civil war.
"Our approach supporting the humanitarian needs of displaced Syrian citizens as close to their home country as possible is the best way to help most people," said Trump.
With reporting by AP, AFP, and Reuters