After attack on Syria, Tillerson vows to defend innocents

Obama aides push back against criticism of inaction on Syria

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad can not stay in power after a suspected chemical attack last week prompted the first direct USA military action against his government, Washington's ambassador to the United Nations has said.

President Trump's limited, proportional missile strike on a single Syrian air base had a clear objective: Punish Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for having launched a chemical weapons attack that killed over 85 of his citizens and deter him (and others) from engaging in similar WMD-related war crimes.

President Hassan Rouhani earlier criticised his USA counterpart Donald Trump for the missiles fired early on Friday in response to the suspected chemical attack. CNN's Jake Tapper asked Haley. "If you look at his actions, if you look at the situation, it's going to be hard to see a government that's peaceful and stable with Assad".

Criticized for his low-profile diplomacy, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is emerging from the shadows with a leading public role in shaping and explaining the Trump administration's missile strikes in Syria.

"My priority is now to continue contact with the United States and others in the run-up to the G7 meeting on 10/11 April - to build co-ordinated worldwide support for a ceasefire on the ground and an intensified political process. Really, now what happens depends on how everyone responds to what happened in Syria and make sure that we start moving toward a political solution and we start finding peace in that area", Haley said.

Ahead of the formal G-7 meetings, Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida told Tillerson that Tokyo supports the United States in its effort to "deter the spread and use of chemical weapons".

"Congress needs to work with the president to try and deal with this long-term strategy, lack of strategy, really, in Syria", he said.


In this image from video provided by the U.S. Navy, the guided-missile destroyer USS Porter (DDG 78) launches a tomahawk land attack missile in the Mediterranean Sea, Friday, April 7, 2017.

"The prime minister and the president agreed that a window of opportunity now exists in which to persuade Russian Federation that its alliance with Assad is no longer in its strategic interest", May's office said.

The official said the presence of the drone couldn't have been a coincidence, and that Russian Federation must have known the chemical weapons attack was coming and that victims were seeking treatment. But there have been repeated allegations of chemical weapons use by the government since then. That trip, too, is fraught with tension over Syria: Tillerson has blamed Russia, Assad's strongest ally, of either complicity or incompetence for allowing Assad to possess and use chemical weapons.

Saudi Arabia, one of the most vehement opponents of Assad, said the missile barrage was the right response to "the crimes of this regime to its people in light of the failure of the worldwide community to stop it".

The American strikes "aim at slowing the victories of the Syrian army and its allies and reinforcing terrorist groups", they said in a statement.

He said allegations that al-Assad's regime was behind a chemical weapons attack were "baseless" and suggested it was carried out by rebel groups to influence global public opinion.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova however said the visit was cancelled after it had been rescheduled.

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