Trump security adviser urges Russia to rethink Syria support

Bruno Cirelli
Aprile 21, 2017

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

Trump has demonstrated an agility and boldness that his predecessor never mustered, but he did so in an entirely unilateral manner with scant regard for the UN Security Council or the Organisation for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, meanwhile, blamed Russian inaction for helping fuel the chemical weapons attack it had reacted to, saying Moscow had failed to carry out a 2013 agreement to secure and destroy chemical weapons in Syria.

Near the central city of Homs, a bomb exploded aboard a bus carrying workers, killing a woman and wounding more than 20, according to state TV and the Observatory.

The Syrian opposition has reported that Assad's forces have begun flying again from an air base struck last week by US missiles, and Graham says Assad is telling Trump - "F. you' - by resuming those flights".

Alaa Alyousef, who lost 25 relatives in the chemical attack, said the US missile strike "alleviates a small part of our suffering", but he worries it will be an "anesthetic" that merely numbs the pain while allowing the worldwide community to save face.

Tillerson on Sunday blamed Russian Federation for enabling the poison gas attack by failing to follow through on a 2013 agreement to secure and destroy chemical weapons stockpiles in Syria.

He said the best outcome would be a peace agreement that leads to a transitional government accepted by all Syrians, followed by elections in which all Syrians, including those living overseas, could vote for new leadership.

"What Ambassador Haley pointed out is it's very hard to understand how a political solution could result from the continuation of the Assad regime", McMaster said. The Trump Administration may have refrained from directly targeting Russian Federation for its support to the Assad regime, but the inference is there. State television quoted Iranian President Hassan Rouhani as saying the committee should be impartial and "must not be headed by Americans".

But about a week earlier, Haley said removing Assad from power wasn't a focus for the Trump administration.

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson cancelled a planned trip to Russian Federation because of fast-moving events in Syria.

The U.S. launched missile strikes on Syrian government installations Thursday in response to the chemical attacks.

The two leaders also called for an objective investigation into an incident involving chemical weapons in Syria's Idlib and said they were ready to deepen cooperation to fight terrorism, the Kremlin said in a statement on its website.

He had planned to travel to Russia Monday on a trip meant to start a fresh dialogue with Moscow.

But Tillerson, who is expected to visit Moscow on Wednesday for talks with Russian officials, said on ABC's "This Week" program there was "no change" to the USA military posture toward Syria. Johnson said Tillerson will be able to give a "clear and co-ordinated message to the Russians".

Barazi did not offer further details, and the U.S. Defense Department referred questions about conditions at the air base to the Damascus government. "The political solution has to come together for the good of the people of Syria", she said. He added that the United Nations was "created to support America instead of serving the wronged people".

But Tillerson said defeating Islamic State is still the paramount US goal in Syria.

US -backed rebels groups have long pleaded for more USA intervention and complained that Washington has only fought the Islamic State group.

"This very airport that was attacked by the United States has been fighting against terrorists for the last six years", Assad adviser Buthaina Shaaban told the AP in Damascus.

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