US & World

Trump calls Syria 'humanitarian disgrace'

President Donald Trump gestures as he answers questions during a news conference with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull at the White House in Washington, Friday, Feb. 23, 2018.
President Donald Trump gestures as he answers questions during a news conference with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull at the White House in Washington, Friday, Feb. 23, 2018.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

President Donald Trump is blaming Russia, Iran and the Syrian government for recent violence in Syria, calling it a "humanitarian disgrace."

Hundreds have been killed amid increased bombardments in recent days of the rebel-controlled eastern suburbs of Damascus. The death toll from the past week has climbed to more than 400.

Trump spoke at a joint news conference with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

Turnbull said Australia has been very generous in accepting refugees from Syria and says the Islamic State group's attempts to establish a caliphate has now "been smashed."

He said what's needed now is a political settlement reached by the people who live there.

During the conference, Turnbull also said his country is inspired by President Donald Trump's tax cuts.

President Donald Trump and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull shake hands during a news conference at the White House in Washington, Friday, Feb. 23, 2018.
President Donald Trump and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull shake hands during a news conference at the White House in Washington, Friday, Feb. 23, 2018.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

He said Trump's economic reforms are one of the most powerful arguments his government is using to persuade Australian lawmakers to reduce the business tax rate there.

Echoing Trump, Turnbull said that most of the benefits go to workers when corporate taxes are cut.

Turnbull said cutting corporate taxes leads to more investment and that more investment leads to more jobs.

Trump signed a $1.5 trillion tax cut into law in December, cutting taxes for corporations and the wealthy and providing more modest breaks for individuals.

Trump also took the opportunity to announce that a U.S. combat ship will be named in honor of an Australian cruiser that was lost fighting alongside the U.S. Navy in World War II.

Trump said the ship will be named the USS Canberra, after Australia's capital.

Trump said Australia's defense minister will sponsor the USS Canberra. Trump said the ship will be a worthy successor to both her Australian namesake and her American predecessor.

He said the ship will symbolize the enduring friendship between the two countries, adding that "there is no closer friendship."

Turnbull said the meetings were a great opportunity to deepen Australia's engagement with its most strategic and economic partner.

This story has been updated.