Days after President Trump ordered missile strikes against a Syrian air base, the apparent differences of opinion appear to highlight how little we know about whehter Trump is really going to be changing the USA policy toward Syria. "If he needs to do more, he will".
"Such attacks will just embolden the terrorists who have faced heavy defeats in Syria and Iraq during recent months", he said, describing the USA attack as a move against interests of Syria.
Talking on ABC's "This Week" programme, Mr Tillerson - who is expected in Moscow tomorrow for talks with Russian officials - said the United States expected Russia to take a tougher stance against Syria by rethinking its alliance with Mr Assad because "every time one of these horrific attacks occurs, it draws Russia closer into some level of responsibility".
"We believe that the first priority is the defeat of ISIS". The sentiment was supported by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who on Sunday said in an interview with ABC news [ABC report], that once the threat of ISIS had been reduced, the USA would focus on stabilizing the situation in Syria. "But what we did not see is a coherent policy on how we're going to deal with the civil war and also deal with ISIS".
He says Trump's missile strike was meant as a "very strong signal to Assad and his sponsors" that the US will not stand idly by, and that Russian Federation should now reconsider support for the "murderous regime". The base was largely evacuated before the US strikes, after Washington forewarned Moscow, which in turn alerted the Syrian government, according to a senior military source in the alliance fighting in support of Assad.
U.S. officials said the presence of Russian advisers at the air field used to launch the attack raised questions about how they could not have known.
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"Russia should ask themselves. why are we supporting this murderous regime that is committing mass murder of its own population and using the most heinous weapons available". The attack in the town of Khan Sheikhoun in the rebel-held province of Idlib near the Turkish border killed at least 87 people, 31 of them children.
Eliminating operations from the airfield was "not the objective", he said. Russian Federation says that a conventional airstrike hit a rebel depot containing "toxic substances".
Saturday´s phone call was the first between the top diplomats of Russian Federation and the U.S. since the strikes on the Syrian airfield. So Trump's decision to launch the strikes - an action President Barack Obama declined to take after a 2013 chemical attack - has raised optimism among rebels that Trump will more directly confront Assad.
Trump later suggested on Twitter the Shayrat runways had not been the primary missile targets.
Earlier on Sunday North Korea vowed to boost its defenses following the USA strikes in Syria.
U.S. President Donald Trump and British Prime Minister Theresa May had agreed to press Russian Federation to distance itself from Assad following the chemical attack by imposing targeted sanctions, but Germany and Italy, both leading G-7 nations, disagreed.