U.S. attack on Syria cements Kremlin's embrace of Assad
Apr 19 2017 by Desiree Burns
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 USA priorities toward ousting Assad.
The Pentagon said 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles were fired from two warships in the Mediterranean Sea at the Shayrat airfield in Syria's central province of Homs on April 7.
It was Trump's biggest foreign policy decision since taking office in January and the kind of direct intervention in Syria's six-year-old civil war his predecessor Barack Obama avoided.
Show host Chuck Todd later pressed Haley over whether or not the administration will release evidence that the chemical weapons attack was indeed spearheaded by the Assad regime.
Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu played down concerns of a rift with Russian Federation over Ankara's support for the strike, saying Turkey was committed to the cease-fire mechanisms it has developed with Russian Federation for Syria.
When conflicts arose between competing forces in the northern Syria town of Manbij after IS was ousted, quiet diplomacy involving commanders from Turkey, the US and Russian Federation hammered out a loose deal last month to restore peace.
But in a joint statement the Russian and Iranians said: "We will respond to any aggression".
Satellite imagery suggests the Shayrat base is home to Russian special forces and military helicopters.
The Syrian government and Moscow have denied that Syrian forces were behind the gas attack, but Western countries have dismissed their explanation that chemicals leaked from a rebel weapons depot after an air strike as not credible.
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, in Florida with Trump, said on Friday the United States would announce additional sanctions on Syria in the near future but offered no specifics.
Haley told CNN in an interview that Trump and his administration were shown classified information proving that Syrian President Bashar Assad had been involved in the alleged chemical attack against civilians in Syria's Idlib. "Because if you're an adversary of the United States and you don't worry about what Trump may do on any given day", Graham continued.
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Russian Federation and Iran have issued a warning to the USA as G7 foreign ministers prepared to meet in Italy to discuss Syria.
Tillerson, on the other hand, stressed that the air strike had the limited aim of deterring further use of chemical weapons. "It is in our vital national security interest to prevent the spread and use of chemical weapons". "I'm disappointed in that response from the Russians because it indicates their continued support for the Assad regime", said Tillerson, who is expected to make a hard trip to Moscow next week.
Iran, which has provided crucial military and political support to Assad, meanwhile called for a fact-finding mission to determine what caused the chemical attack in Khan Sheikhoun.
U.S. officials called the intervention a "one-off" meant to deter future chemical weapons attacks and not an expansion of the USA role in the Syrian war.
United States allies from Asia, Europe and the Middle East expressed support for the attack, if sometimes cautiously. Peskov refused to comment when asked by journalists why Russian Federation did not intervene to stop the airstrike.
The objective of US policy, Haley said on NBC's Meet the Press, is "to defeat ISIS".
Graham had a simple response for the Syrian dictator: "F U".
Russian Federation joined the war on Assad's behalf in 2015, turning the momentum in his favor.
The secretary of state must be "the spokesman for American foreign policy", said Eliot Cohen, a senior State Department official during George W. Bush's presidency. He said if only the tarmac was destroyed it can be fixed within hours, but if the communications system and the control tower were heavily damaged it will take weeks if not months.
Yesterday, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem repeated the government's denial that it used chemical weapons on Khan Sheikhun at dawn, saying warplanes had instead targeted a jihadist warehouse.