Tillerson, top diplomats hold urgent meeting on Syria crisis

Moscow officials also responded by sending a warship armed with cruise missiles off the coast of Syria. This past week, evidence surfaced that Erik Prince, the founder of the private military service Blackwater, had established a back-channel line of communication in the United Arab Emirates between the Trump administration and Moscow officials.

If you watched UN Ambassador Nikki Haley on CNN, you heard her tell "State of the Union" host Jake Tapper that "regime change is something that we think is going to happen because all of the parties are going to see that (Syrian president Bashar al-) Assad is not the leader that needs to be taking place for Syria".

The results were announced as the Russian military said the Syrian government is willing to let global experts examine its military base for signs of chemical weapons.

Successive attempts by top Trump administration officials to articulate a plan have only furthered the appearance of a policy still evolving, even after the USA broke with precedent last week by attacking Assad's forces. British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson told the BBC that the priority for the G7 summit was to give a "clear mandate" to Tillerson as he headed to Moscow.

McCain is on a tour of the western Balkans, the war-weary European region where Russian Federation has been vying for increased military, political and economic influence.

But Russia and Iran - Assad's two principal global backers - have warned that they would respond "with force" to any fresh attack on their ally. According to a statement issued by Russia's Foreign Ministry, Lavrov said USA statements that the Syrian government used chemical weapons "do not correspond with reality".

Putin added that some in the West are using Syria to cast Russian Federation as a "common enemy". The Kremlin has repeatedly said the civilian exposure to toxic agents resulted from Syrian warplanes hitting a rebel ammunition warehouse on the eastern outskirts of the village of Khan Sheikhoun. So what we're trying to do is obviously defeat ISIS.

Live footage from the scene showed tall clouds of black smoke billowing just over the tarmac.

"The raging civil war in Syria, the violent conflicts around the world", he said, "require an global community that pulls together, that holds each other to account and that strives everyday not to repeat the bad mistakes of the past".

The airport said in a separate statement that the fire was outside the airport and it didn't affect its operations.

The United States' missile strike on a military airfield in Syria is an act of aggression that violates global law and bolsters terrorists, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement Tuesday.

The Trump administration has warned Syria that the use of chemical weapons or barrel bombs could bring fresh U.S. military action.

Syria, Russia and Iran claim that the American attack crossed their red lines.

Russian Federation has claimed Tuesday's deaths in Khan Sheikhoun were caused by a Syrian regime airstrike on a rebel-controlled chemical weapons facility.

Colonel General Sergei Rudskoy, of the Russian General Staff, said Russia will provide security for global inspectors seeking to examine Syrian bases, and that Damascus has agreed to allow the inspections. According to Iran and Russian Federation, the attack crossed their red lines. The Syrian government has been blamed for the attack.

U.S. officials said the strike against the Shayrat airbase hit aircraft, fuel storage, weapons dumps and other equipment, and was aimed at sending a message to the Syrian regime that the use of chemical weapons would not be tolerated.

"This was a continuation of a series of chemical weapons attack by Bashar al-Assad", Tillerson told CBS on Sunday.

Tillerson's comments came an hour before he flew to Moscow from a Group of Seven meeting in Italy to meet with his Russian counterpart.

The updated assessment was released after US President Trump asked Mattis for a more information on the extent of the damage to the airbase, according to a senior administration official.

The ministry said in a three-page statement issued ahead of Tillerson's arrival later on Tuesday that the outcome of the talks is important not only for the Russia-U.S. ties but "for the overall atmosphere on the world stage".

Haley told the Security Council on Friday the U.S. was "prepared to do more" following the strike on a Syrian air base in retaliation for a chemical weapons attack in Khan Shaykhun in Idlib province. Assad's willingness to clear the way for political talks predicated on him leaving power is deeply in question. Some officials, like Tillerson, said the USA was confident Syrians would choose on their own to push Assad aside, while suggesting the US wouldn't mandate it. U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley and others said ousting Assad was indeed a US goal, but only one of several.

The next two days will be dominated by a collective search for arguments to persuade President Vladimir Putin he must now end Russia's military support for President Assad and help accelerate a negotiated political transition.

"I hope that this behavior by Syria, in what clearly is cooperation with Russian Federation and Syria together, will never happen again", he said. But he says that distinction "doesn't much matter to the dead".

"We rededicate ourselves to holding to account any and all who commit crimes against the innocents anywhere in the world", Tillerson said while visiting a memorial dedicated to the massacre's victims.

Spicer also defended Monday the use of force in Syria, arguing Trump did not need congressional approval because the strike was in the United States' national interest.

  • Leroy Wright