Rubio says USA can't defeat ISIS until Syria's Assad is removed

Posted April 10, 2017

President Trump last week ordered the USA military to conduct airstrikes on the Syrian airfield believed to have launched a chemical weapons attack that killed at least 70 civilians.

"Clearly, that requires the participation of the regime with the support of their allies", he said, "And we're hopeful that Russian Federation will choose to play a constructive role in supporting ceasefires through their own Astana talks, but also, ultimately, through Geneva".

Thursday's strike "was related exclusively to the most recent horrific use of chemical weapons", Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told ABC News' George Stephanopoulos on Sunday.

The statement says King Salman bin Abd al-Aziz al-Saud agreed it "was a necessary response" to the chemical weapons attack by Bashar Assad's government, which killed dozens of civilians in rebel-led northern Idlib.

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But United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley said there can be no peace in Syria with Assad in power. "Once the ISIS threat has been reduced or eliminated, I think we can turn our attention directly to stabilizing the situation in Syria". Tillerson said at the time that "steps are underway" to form an global coalition that would seek to remove al-Assad through some kind of negotiated settlement.

"Regime change is something that we think is going to happen", she said, adding that Washington was also focused on fighting the Islamic State group in Syria and ending Iranian influence.

He further added that we've seen what violent regime change looks like in cases like Libya.

In the wide-ranging ABC interview, Tillerson also said the USA has "no objective" to change North Korea's regime as Kim Jong Un continues to ramp up Pyongyang's nuclear program, and that there's no reason for the lift sanctions placed on Russian Federation following its annexation of Crimea in 2014.

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Syria's closest allies Russian Federation and Iran have defended Damascus against the allegations of chemical weapons use, with Moscow saying a conventional strike hit a rebel depot containing "toxic substances". "And yes, that will be part of the discussions".

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.

Moscow has said it doesn't believe Assad's forces carried out the attack on Thursday that involved children and called for a "thorough and impartial" investigation.

On North Korea's nuclear capability, Tillerson said Kim Jong Un "has made significant advancements in delivery systems, and that is what concerns us the most".

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