Former President Barack Obama struggled over his failure to stop the brutal war in Syria as president, telling an audience that at least he tried.

“As president I didn’t always have the tools I wanted to affect those changes, but at least we tried,” he said, referring to the conflict in Syria.

Obama made his remarks during a panel conversation with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin, admitting that the two leaders were unsuccessful in stopping the conflict, “despite our best efforts.”

He assured the audience that the atrocities in Syria “have haunted me since we first started seeing the civil war break out.”

Earlier this month, however, Obama said that not bombing Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad after he used chemical weapons on his own citizens “required the most political courage.”

He said that it was important to reduce the conflicts that were causing millions of refugees to flee their countries.

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