Trump advisers: US seeks to fight IS and oust Syria's Assad

McCain referred to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson comments in March that "the longer-term status" of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad will be decided by the Syrian people, McCain said, "I think it probably was partially to blame".

Ms Bishop said the attack on the base from which the chemical weapons attack took place was a "proportionate, calibrated and targeted".

"We are not aware about that; we can not confirm that, and we do not know where Reuters got this and where these anonymous sources appeared from again", said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, referring to one of the news wires that reported on the statement.

In related developments, Syria's state news agency SANA said Saturday hundreds more Syrian rebels and their families have left the last opposition-held neighborhood in the central city of Homs, under a Russia-brokered deal granting them safe passage to other areas of the country.

"There seem to be a difference in what Ambassador Haley is saying, that Assad has no future, and what I heard this morning from Secretary Tillerson", Republican Senator Marco Rubio told ABC, adding that Tillerson's strategy won't work.

It follows a phone call yesterday between UK Prime Minister Theresa May and US President Trump in which, according to May's office, the two agreed that there is now a "window of opportunity" to persuade Russian Federation that supporting Assad was "no longer in its strategic interests".

The focus of USA policy has turned to possible Russian complicity with last week's chemical attacks which the United States says were launched from Syrian aircraft based at the Shayrat air field near Homs. "What I can tell you is, through the meetings we had all this week, what you saw was a president that was disgusted by what the Assad regime did to those innocent people".

"It is clear to all of us that the reign of the Assad family is coming to an end", he said.

Even so, allies of Mr Johnson admitted it would be "a battle" to get any agreement over the two days of talks following worldwide amazement at President Trump's decision to bombard a Syrian air force base in retaliation at the use of banned chemical weapons.

The mixed messages have confused and frustrated European allies, who are eager for full USA support for a political solution based on a transfer of power in Damascus.

"To date, Astana has not achieved much progress", Tillerson said.

In Iran, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said the USA missile strike was a "a strategic error, and a repeat of the mistakes of the past", the state news agency IRNA reported.

The G7 foreign ministers failed to agree on whether fresh sanctions should be imposed on the Syrian President or his ally Russia, Italy's foreign minister Angelino Alfano said.

Residents of the Syrian town devastated by a chemical weapons attack last week said warplanes had returned to bomb them, despite a United States missile barrage and warnings of possible further response.

But the agenda is now likely to be dominated by last week's suspected chemical weapons attack on a rebel-held Syrian town that killed at least 87 civilians, and the United States cruise missiles fired at a Syrian air base in retaliation. Yet the US has no proof of Moscow's involvement, said the official, who wasn't authorized to speak publicly on intelligence matters and demanded anonymity.

On the eve of Tuesday's special meeting on Syria, Italian Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano called his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif to seek his help in persuading Assad to spare civilians, an Italian foreign ministry official said.

The Kremlin said in a statement Rouhani also spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin by phone. Instead, the hoping to use the visit - the first by a Trump Cabinet official to Russia - to convey its expectations to Moscow and then allow the Russians a period of time to respond.

"The United States knows very well our ability to react", added the statement published on the website of Al-Watan, a daily newspaper close to the regime.

  • Leroy Wright