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Syria: Philip Hammond confuses Saddam Hussein with Bashar al-Assad on Newsnight


With David Cameron’s shock Commons defeat on Syria sending Conservatives into disarray, it’s no surprise that Defence Secretary Philip Hammond seemed flustered on Newsnight.

However, that Mr Hammond appeared to forget who Britain had intended to strike against in Syria was even more remarkable.

The Tory minister twice referred to “ Saddam Hussein” instead of Bashar al-Assad, mixing up the Syrian leader with the former Iraqi despot who was executed in 2006 . He spoke about “deterring Saddam Hussein from further use of chemical weapons” and that “Britain should not take part in any action against Saddam Hussein”.

Mr Hammond had earlier suggested that Tony Blair was to blame for the Government losing the vote, because he had “poisoned the well” of public opinion through intervening in Iraq.

The Assad/Hussein gaffe was widely shared on social media, with one Twitter user, Andy Dawson, even making a vine of his mistake, below.