Tillerson, Top Diplomats Hold Urgent Meeting on Syria Crisis
Until Trump ordered USA missile strikes on a Syrian air base in response to the nerve gas attack that killed more than 80, the president had focused on defeating the Islamic State group and had shown no appetite for challenging Assad - and, by extension, his Russian supporter President Vladimir Putin.
May and Merkel, in two separate calls with Trump, expressed support for the action of the U.S. and agreed with Trump on the importance of holding Assad accountable, the White House said.
In Damascus, a Syrian official said foreign minister Walid al-Moallem will visit Russian Federation on Thursday where he will meet officials in Moscow.
The White House is circulating a letter President Donald Trump sent to the leaders of both houses of Congress explaining his decision to order military strikes on a Syrian air field. "We haven't had one for six years during the Obama administration, and 400,000 civilians have died and millions of people have been displaced internally and externally in Europe and elsewhere".
"We are very confident that terrorists or non-state actors did not commit this particular attack", the official said.
"Getting Assad out is not the only priority. Our priority remains the defeat of ISIS".
Allies will also be seeking clarity from the USA on its Syria policy, after some apparently mixed messages.
After last Tuesday's chemical attack in Syria, Trump said his attitude toward Assad "has changed very much" and Tillerson said "steps are underway" to organize a coalition to remove him from power.
Tillerson's visit comes nearly a week after at least five people were killed and seven others injured after the United States launched 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at the Syrian military airfield in Ash Sha'irat, located about 40 kilometers (25 miles) from the city of Homs.
"Regime change is something that we think is going to happen because all of the parties are going to see that Assad is not the leader that needs to be taking place for Syria".
"I don't see a peaceful, stable Syria in the future that has Assad in charge", White House spokesman Sean Spicer said on Tuesday.
A former North Atlantic Treaty Organisation commander described as "souring" the relations between US President Donald Trump's administration and Russian Federation amid a series of foreign policy collisions between the two countries, the media reportd.
Those comments came a day after the USA ambassador to the United Nations said there was no way to stabilise Syria with Mr Assad as president.
"It is clear to us the reign of the Assad family is coming to an end", Tillerson told reporters in Italy.
"Lavrov stressed that an attack on a country whose government is fighting terrorism only plays into the hands of extremists creates additional threats to regional and global security", the statement said.
It called on Russian Federation to promote a "real and genuine" political process in Syria and to use its influence to end the country's bloody six-year civil war.
The April 4 chemical weapons attack on the rebel-held town in Idlib province left almost 90 people dead.
Speaking to Sputnik, Pavel Svyatenkov described the U.S. missile attack on Syria as another attempt to worsen the negotiating positions of Moscow ahead of Tillerson's talks with Lavrov.
"And I think he's making a serious mistake, because if you're an adversary of the United States and you don't worry about what Trump may do on any given day, then you're insane".
Trump used the same argument in December, when the intelligence community issued its official assessment that Russian Federation interfered with the US election. Russian Federation had its own military personnel at the Syrian military airport that the US struck with cruise missiles.
"We're calling (Russia and Iran) out", Haley added.
US officials previously have said Russians routinely work with Syrians at the Shayrat air base where the attack is supposed to have originated. Those bombings are believed to have been carried out by the regime or Russian Federation.
"Putin knows that Trump personally degraded USA intelligence credibility by attacking it over the Russian hacking and essentially going to war with the CIA and NSA", said Malcolm Nance, a veteran intelligence officer.
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