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10 April 2017, 02:08 | Clarence Schmidt
In remarks from his Mar-a-Lago resort in West Palm Beach, Florida, President Donald Trump explained his decision to launch a military strike against a Syrian air base Thursday night, expressing disgust at the "very barbaric attack" by Syria.
The United States has blamed the chemical weapons attack on the Assad regime, which has been embroiled in a civil war against various opposition groups, including moderate rebels and US -designated terrorist organizations since 2011. Rubio, in an interview on ABC's "This Week" Sunday, responded to earlier comments on the show by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson that the US priority in Syria is to defeat ISIS.
Tillerson on Sunday blamed Moscow for failing to prevent the Assad regime from using chemical weapons, despite a 2013 Russian-organized agreement in which the Syrian government was to surrender its chemical weapons arsenal.
Tillerson conceded that removing Assad from power could "ultimately" require greater pressure, including military action, from the USA or an worldwide coalition, but he said that isn't the preferred choice.
"There's not any sort of option where political solution is going to happen with Assad at the head of the regime, 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", she said on CNN's "State of the Union".
The wave of bombings came just days after the mass chemical gas killing that provoked Thursday's retaliatory attack by the USA on a Syrian air base.
Even so, Tillerson said, without naming North Korea, that "if you violate global agreements, if you fail to live up to commitments, if you become a threat to others, at some point a response is likely to be undertaken".
Tillerson is expected in Moscow this week for talks with Russian officials. He said he will remind his counterpart of Russia's obligation to act as the guarantor of the agreement to eliminate chemical weapons from Syria. "We've already, I think, issued some very strong statements", Tillerson said.
Syria's government has denied any involvement in Tuesday's attack on Khan Sheikhun, suspected to be the second-deadliest chemical weapons attack since the country's war began in March 2011. It condemned the chemical attack, without naming Assad, calling instead for an worldwide investigation to identify the perpetrator.
Until Sunday, Tillerson, 65, the former chief executive of oil giant Exxon Mobil, hadn't done the talk-show circuit and had consented to few interviews since being sworn in as the top USA diplomat in February.
Late last month, both Haley and Tillerson said separately that the USA was not committed to removing Assad. The US has been providing air and ground support to the Iraqi forces fighting Islamic State militants and have helped the country recapture most of the cities that it had lost to them.
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