WASHINGTON (WUSA9) - President Trump's spokesman backtracked Tuesday on comments likening Bashar Assad to Holocaust architect Adolf Hitler.
"We didn't use chemical weapons in World War II. You had a ... someone as despicable as Hitler who didn't even sink ... to using chemical weapons," White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said. "You have to, if you're Russia, ask yourself, is this a country and a regime you want to align yourself with?"
Later asked to explain, Spicer said he meant to say that Hitler had not used chemical weapons in battlefield situations as Assad did last week.
"I think when you come to sarin gas... he was not using the gas on his own people the same way that Assad is doing," he said. "He brought them into the Holocaust center, I understand that. But I was saying that in the way that Assad used them, where he went into towns, dropped them down into innocent — into the middle of towns."
Spicer clarified a second time in a statement: "In no way was I trying to lessen the horrendous nature of the Holocaust. However, I was trying to draw a contrast of the tactic of using airplanes to drop chemical weapons on innocent people.
Millions of people died during the Holocaust, with gas chambers being one of the primary ways of killing the victims.
Shortly after Spicer's comments, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum sent out footage of the liberation of the Buchenwald concentration camp.
The Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect called for Trump to fire Spicer, saying that he was engaging in Holocaust denial.
"On Passover no less, Sean Spicer has engaged in Holocaust denial, the most offensive of fake news imaginable, by denying Hitler gassed millions of Jews to death," Steven Goldstein, the center's executive director, said in a statement. "Spicer's statement is the most evil slur upon a group of people we have ever heard from a White House press secretary."