White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said even Adolf Hitler did not user chemical weapons on his people in the same way Syria's leader did in a recent gas attack in Iblid that killed more than 80 people.
"We didn’t use chemical weapons in World War II," Spicer said during his regular press briefing, addressing a question on the relationship between Russia and Syria.
"You had someone as despicable as Hitler, who didn’t even sink to using chemical weapons."
When asked to clarify that statement later in the briefing, Spicer expanded his response and the comparison to Hitler, causing an immediate burst of criticism on social media.
"I think when you come to sarin gas, he was not using the gas on his own people in the same way that Assad was doing," said Spicer.
"There was not — he brought them into the Holocaust centre, I understand that — but I’m saying in the way [Syrian President Bashar Assad] used them, where he went into towns, to innocents, into the middle of towns.
"The use of it, I appreciate the clarification there, that was not the intent."
Spicer clarified his comments in a statement to NBC News immediately following the briefing, at which time his name was a trending topic on Twitter due to the volume of posts on his remarks.
"In no way was I trying to lessen the horrendous nature of the Holocaust," the statement said.
"However, I was trying to draw a contrast of the tactic of using airplanes to drop chemical weapons on innocent people."
The White House then had to issue another statement walking back that final line about how the deadly gas was delivered.
"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 population centers."
Minutes later, another version of the clarification was issued to the White House press pool affirming Holocaust victims' innocence.
"In no way was I trying to lessen the horrendous nature of the Holocaust," the third statement said.
"I was trying to draw a distinction of the tactic of using airplanes to drop chemical weapons on population centers.
"Any attack on innocent people is reprehensible and inexcusable."
The Nazis killed over 3 million German people in their concentration camps, primarily using chemically manufactured carbon monoxide and Zyklon B, a cyanide-based pesticide.
As part of Hitler's "Final Solution" more than 6 million Jews were killed and millions more Roma, homosexuals and disabled people from across Europe were also systematically wiped out.
President Trump cited the attack on Syria as the catalyst for his ordering the US military to fire 59 cruise missiles at a Syrian air base.