Speed Reads

shifting positions

Rex Tillerson tells Russia it should rethink alliance with Bashar al-Assad

Speaking to reporters a week before his scheduled trip to Moscow, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Wednesday there is "no doubt in our mind" that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government is behind a chemical attack that killed dozens of Syrians on Tuesday, and "it's time that the Russians really need to think carefully about their continued support of the Assad regime."

In a message directed to all of Syria's allies, Tillerson said they need to "exercise their influence" on Assad to prevent another horrific chemical attack from taking place. His comments echoed those made by U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, who said "Assad, Russia, and Iran have no interest in peace," and Russia "cannot escape responsibility for this." At the White House earlier, President Trump said the attack "crossed a lot of lines for me" and his "attitude toward Syria and Assad has changed very much." Tillerson had previously said it was up to the Syrian people to decide what to do with Assad. The Syrian government has said it is not responsible for the attack in Khan Sheikhoun, and Russia has pinned it on Syrian rebels.