Published: Wed, April 19, 2017
Culture | By Stewart Greene

U.S. vows to keep up pressure on Syria


While Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the United Nations, described regime change in Syria as a USA priority and inevitable, Tillerson suggested that last week's American airstrikes in retaliation for the chemical attack hadn't really changed USA priorities toward ousting Assad.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, on the other hand, insisted that the U.S. priority was to eliminate ISIS first and foremost, and that the future government of Syria, as well as Assad's fate, were up to the Syrian people.

Russian Federation and Iran have issued a direct warning to US President Donald Trump, saying his missile strike on a Syrian airbase crossed "red lines" and they would respond to any new aggression and increase support for their ally.

"If Russia wants to be absolved of responsibility for future attacks, (President) Vladimir Putin needs to enforce commitments, dismantle Assad's chemical weapons arsenal for good and get fully engaged" with the United Nations peace process on Syria. Officials said a drone belonging to either Russian Federation or Syria was seen hovering over the site after the assault earlier this week.

Pressed to clarify, McMaster said the goals of fighting IS and ousting Syria's president were somewhat "simultaneous" and that the objective of the missile strike was to send a "strong political message to Assad".

USA -backed rebels groups have long pleaded for more US intervention and complained that Washington has only fought the Islamic State group. He called the Assad government a main force against terrorism and said it deserved the presumption of innocence in the chemical weapons attack. "From now on we will respond with force to any aggressor or any breach of red lines from whoever it is and America knows our ability to respond well", said the statement published by the group on media outlet Ilam al Harbi (War Media).

Several lawmakers said Sunday that decision shouldn't entirely be up to Trump.

It was Tillerson who delivered the Trump administration's first blistering condemnation of Russian Federation in the hours after the strikes.

In Iran, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said the USA missile strike was "a strategic error, and a repeat of the mistakes of the past", the state news agency IRNA reported.

In Florida with the president, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said additional economic sanctions on Syria were being prepared.

British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon criticized Russia's support of Assad, describing the chemical attack as a war crime that happened "on their watch".

On Friday, senior USA military officials were looking more closely at possible Russian involvement in the poison attack.

Haley said "getting Assad out is not the only priority" and that countering Iran's influence in Syria was another.

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