(Bloomberg) --

President Donald Trump said he wanted to assassinate Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, contradicting his earlier denial that he’d sought to kill him.

“I would have rather taken him out,” Trump said Tuesday on Fox News. “I had him all set, Mattis didn’t want to do it.”

Trump said on Fox News Tuesday that he doesn’t regret his decision not to move forward with the killing, but faulted former Defense Secretary James James Mattis. The former defense secretary, who left the administration in January 2019, has been critical of Trump.

“To me he was a terrible general, he was a bad leader,” Trump said of Mattis.

A book written by Journalist Bob Woodward in 2018 said Trump urged Mattis to come up with a plan to kill Assad, but that the then-Defense secretary did not go along with the president’s demands. That came after a chemical attack on civilians in 2017 that was blamed on the Syrian government.

After the book was released, Trump denied that he’d sought Assad’s death.

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