White House remark on Hitler and chemical weapons draws ire

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Media captionSpicer: ‘Hitler didn’t even sink to chemical weapons’

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer has been criticised after he declared that Adolf Hitler did not use chemical weapons during World War Two.

“We had someone as despicable as Hitler who didn’t even sink to using chemical weapons,” he said as he criticised Russia for supporting Syria’s regime.

Critics pointed out gas was used to kill Jews and others in the Holocaust.

Mr Spicer then said he meant Hitler did not use gas on his own people “the same way” as Syria has allegedly done.

He was attempting to draw a comparison between Hitler and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who is suspected of launching a chemical weapons attack in northern Syria on 4 April that left nearly 90 people dead.

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The US responded by launching nearly 60 missiles on a Syrian military base.

Mr Spicer was asked to clarify his remarks during the news conference and garbled his words during the response.

“I think when you come to sarin gas, there was no, he [Hitler] was not using the gas on his own people the same way that Asshad [sic] is doing.”

He added: “There was not, in the, he brought them in to the Holocaust centres, I understand that, what I’m saying, in the way that Assad used them, where he went into towns dropped them down to innocent, into the middle of towns, it was brought to, so the use of it, and I appreciate the clarification, that was not the intent.”

After the press conference, Mr Spicer attempted to further clarify his comments.

“In no way was I trying to lessen the horrendous nature of the Holocaust. I was trying to draw a distinction of the tactic of using airplanes to drop chemical weapons on population centres,” he said.

“Any attack on innocent people is reprehensible and inexcusable.”

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Media captionHolocaust survivor, Sabina Miller: “At night we went out to beg for food… it’s a miracle we survived”

But the comments sparked backlash online, where Twitter users quickly condemned the remarks and noted that Hitler used gas to kill Jews, German citizens any any political opponents of the Nazi Party.

Chelsea Clinton, the daughter of former President Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton, was among those to rebuke Mr Spicer.

Some users also criticised Mr Spicer for referring to concentration camps as “Holocaust centres”.

The Anne Frank Center called on President Donald Trump to fire Mr Spicer over the gaffe.

Executive director Steven Goldstein said the remarks were “the most evil slur upon a group of people” ever heard from a White House press secretary, and he should be fired.

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