Published: Fri, April 14, 2017
U.S. | By Eddie Scott

USA now wants regime change in Syria, says United Nations envoy

USA now wants regime change in Syria, says United Nations envoy

But following Assad's use of chemical weapons against Syrian rebels last week, Trump's administration appears torn over how far to go with its Syria policy - with some members of the administration explicitly calling for Assad's removal from power. President Obama never wound up launching strikes against Syria, despite having set the infamous "red line".

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson also suggested that Assad should be removed, but that this should be achieved in the context of a political transition.

Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, the No. 2 Republican in the Senate, praised Trump's initial missile strike for sending a message to Assad, Russia, Iran and North Korea that "there's a new administration in charge".

Cavusoglu also said Ankara has been on a "different page" with Moscow on Assad since the beginning, adding that Turkey "would have given up its principles if it cares what other countries think when there's a chemical attack and a crime against humanity".

Syrian forces launched further air strikes on Saturday, which killed 18 people - including five children - in the rebel-controlled Idlib province, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and the civil defence rescue service reported.

Tillerson stopped short of accusing Russian Federation of direct involvement in planning or carrying out the attack, saying he had not seen "any hard evidence" to suggest Moscow was an accomplice to Assad.

Earlier on Sunday, Rep. Adam Schiff of California, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said on ABC News' "This Week" that Russian Federation is "complicit" in the chemical attack in Syria.

It was the first time Washington has intervened directly against Assad's forces.

The South Carolina Republican and military hawk is calling for as many as 6,000 more USA troops to help defeat the Islamic State terror group in the Middle East.

"Terrorists must not be allowed to use such weapons to accuse others and pave the way for actions that are contrary to global law", said Rouhani. Once that threat "has been reduced or eliminated, I think we can turn our attention directly to stabilizing the situation in Syria", he said.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson blames Russia's inaction for helping fuel a deadly poison attack against Syrian civilians last week.

Other than that, he added, "there is no change to our military posture" towards Syria.

Tillerson said defeating the Islamic State group remains the top focus.

Reluctant to put significant troops on the ground in Syria, the US for years has struggled to prevent Assad from strengthening his hold on power.

Iranian President Hassan Rohani in Tehran on April 10.

On Thursday night, the US military shot 59 Tomahawk missiles at the airfield in western Syria where the regime of Bashar Assad had itself launched a chemical attack that killed at least 87 people. "What was it? How did it happen?" he said.

But the secretary of state said when he meets with the Russian foreign minister this week, he will bring up Russia's obligation under a 2013 agreement to ensure the Syrian government got rid of its chemical weapons.

That marked an apparent shift from his comments to reporters on Thursday night, when he said, "It would seem there would be no role for him to govern the Syrian people".

The leaders of Spain, France, Italy, Portugal, Greece, Cyprus, and Malta issued the statement at the end of a summit in Spain. "This is a great opportunity for the Russian leadership to reevaluate what they are doing".

The focus of USA policy has turned to possible Russian complicity with last week's chemical attacks which the United States says were launched from Syrian aircraft based at the Shayrat air field near Homs.

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