CNN's David Gregory on Friday called out the Obama administration for claiming it brokered a deal with Russia back in 2013 to remove "100 percent" of the Syrian government's chemical weapons.
John Kerry, who served as secretary of state during the Obama administration, said on NBC's "Meet the Press" in 2014 that "we struck a deal where we got 100 percent of the chemical weapons out." However, such claims by former Obama administration officials are being scrutinized this week after a chemical weapons attack struck a Syrian town on Tuesday, killing over 100 Syrian noncombatants, including children.
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The Trump administration has said the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was behind the attack.
Gregory addressed Kerry's former spokesman, John Kirby, who appeared on CNN's "New Day" and discussed Kerry's claim that all of the weapons were removed.
"I thought those chemical weapons were gone," Gregory said. "What happened to those? How were they still there? Is that all on Russia, or did the previous administration get duped, too?"
Kirby then walked back Kerry's previous claim.
"We knew that we got the vast majority of the declared stockpiles out, and at the time we said, as well as OPCW [Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons], that we couldn't guarantee that there weren't undeclared stockpiles still in the country, or that we could negate his [Assad's] ability to acquire or create more," Kirby said.
"It is something we were mindful of at the time," the former State Department spokesman continued. "It is obviously carried out to a disastrous effect here this week, but we were careful at the time not to say that we knew we got every single stockpile of every single chemical weapon out of Syria."
On Wednesday, the fact-checking website PolitiFact retracted its previous "mostly true" ruling on Kerry's "100 percent" statement regarding Syria's chemical weapons, the Washington Free Beacon reported.
Nearly three years after Kerry's comment, a chemical weapons attack devastated a rebel-controlled village in northern Syria, killing somewhere between 70 and 100 noncombatants, including dozens of children. The United States has fingered Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as the perpetrator of the attack.
The next day, PolitiFact pulled its earlier fact-check "because we now have many unanswered questions."
"We don't know key details about the reported chemical attack in Syria on April 4, 2017, but it raises two clear possibilities: Either Syria never fully complied with its 2013 promise to reveal all of its chemical weapons; or it did, but then converted otherwise non-lethal chemicals to military uses," the site wrote.
"One way or another, subsequent events have proved Kerry wrong," PolitiFact concluded.