[Vladimir] Putin wants to keep [Bashar] Assad in power and expand his own military base in Syria, whatever the cost. I even believe he has an interest in more and more people fleeing the country. The flow of refugees improves his negotiating position toward the West, including the German chancellor.
Hillary Clinton failed to mention that her agreement with a precipitous withdrawal and declaration of victory in 2011 helped left swaths of territory and weaponry from ISIS. She failed to mention that she described Bashar al-Assad as a positive reformer and opened an American embassy. She failed to mention a complete failure strategy in Libya, which now is enabling ISIS to move into Libya.
I don't understand this thing about [Bashar] Assad. He has to go. Assad is aligned with Iran and Russia. The one thing we want to prevent is we want to prevent Iran being able to extend a Shia crescent all across the Middle East. Assad has got to go.
Let's not forget: This all began when you had eight- and nine-year-old children writing graffiti on walls. Their parents were told: "You will never see them again. If you want to have children, go to your wife and make new ones." [Bashar] Assad's people rebelled. He crushed them brutally. But his military could not protect him. So he asked the Iranians to come in and help.
You can imagine what the advisers are telling Junior Assad: "Your statues are much stronger than Saddam's. His were hollow, and bolted in place with inferior metal; yours are solid, and are anchored to a depth of three feet. Let the American tanks come! Their gears will strip and their engines whine in defeat as they attempt to pull down your statues!
We have to get rid of ISIS first. After we get rid of ISIS, we'll start thinking about it. But we can't be fighting [Bashar] Assad. And when you're fighting Assad, you are fighting Russia, you're fighting - you're fighting a lot of different groups.