US warns Assad's reign in Syria "coming to an end"
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is visiting Russia where he's expected to urge Moscow to stop supporting Assad. His visit comes days after the US conducted missile strikes against a Syrian airbase. Earlier, Tillerson said Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's reign was "coming to an end" and that Russia risks becoming irrelevant in the Middle East by continuing to support Assad.
Tillerson's visit to Russia comes amid simmering tensions between Washington and Moscow. The US' missile strikes, which came in retaliation to a chemical attack in Syria, were condemned by Russia, Assad's chief ally. The US and its allies blame Assad's military for the chemical attack. Russian President Vladimir Putin dismissed the US' allegations and has called for an independent UN investigation into the incident.
Prior to the chemical attacks, the Trump administration seemed fine with allowing Assad to rule over Syria, a departure from the previous Obama administration's support for regime change. However, missile strikes following the chemical attack along with recent statements by US officials indicate a U-turn on Trump's stance on Assad. Yet, Trump said the US has no further plans to enter Syria's civil war.
"Our military policy in Syria has not changed," defence secretary Jim Mattis said, implying that the US would continue targeting ISIS, not Assad. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said before his meeting with Tillerson that Russia had "questions" regarding Washington's "ambiguous and contradictory" stance on Syria. Tillerson said he's looking forward to a "candid" meeting with Lavrov so that US-Russia differences could be narrowed.
Eric Trump said he's "sure" that his sister Ivanka Trump influenced their father, President Donald Trump to launch missile strikes against Syria. He said "Ivanka is a mother of three kids" and was horrified at images of the children killed in the chemical attack.