U.S. rhetoric 'partially to blame' for Syria attack: McCain

"There seems to be a difference between what Ambassador Haley is saying, and what she said last night that Assad really has no future, and what I heard this morning from Secretary Tillerson". "Russia should ask themselves, 'What are we doing here?' Why are we supporting this murderous regime that is committing mass murder of its own population and using the most heinous weapons available?'"

M - A joint command center made up of the forces of Russia, Iran and militias supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Sunday said the USA strike on a Syrian air base on Friday crossed "red lines" and it would respond to any new aggression and increase its support for its ally, Reutersreported.

Pressed to clarify, McMaster said the goals of fighting IS and ousting Syria's president were somewhat "simultaneous" and that the objective of the missile strike was to send a "strong political message to Assad" to stop using chemical weapons. He also said the top USA priority in the region hasn't changed and remained the defeat of Islamic State militants.

The statement warned the US that allies of Syria were "closely and deeply following American forces' moves and presence" in the areas of northern Syria and northwestern Iraq, and that they will "consider them [to be] an occupying force". While Nikki Haley, the USA ambassador to the United Nations, described regime change in Syria as a US priority and inevitable, Tillerson suggested that last week's American airstrikes in retaliation for the chemical attack hadn't really changed USA priorities toward ousting Assad.

Rebels and residents in northwestern Idlib province said jets believed to be Russian conducted eight raids on Sunday on the town of Khan Sheikhoun where the chemical attack took place but no casualties were reported.

The US retaliatory strike marked the first time the United States has intervened directly in the Syrian civil war against Assad's Russian- and Iranian-backed regime, raising questions about Washington's next steps. So Trump's decision to launch the strikes - an action President Barack Obama declined to take after a 2013 chemical attack - has raised optimism among rebels that Trump will more directly confront Assad.

Saudi Arabia, one of the most vehement opponents of Assad, said the missile barrage was the right response to "the crimes of this regime to its people in light of the failure of the global community to stop it".

"It agreed to be the guarantor of the elimination of the chemical weapons, and why Russia has not been able to achieve that is unclear to me", said Tillerson, who is to meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on April 12.

The decision undercut another campaign promise for Trump: his pledge to try to warm relations with Moscow.

Johnson earlier said that instead of traveling to Moscow, he would now be going to Italy for a Group of Seven (G7) meeting on April 10-11 to build coordinated global support for a cease-fire in Syria.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson took a more nuanced view, asserting that Assad had undermined his legitimacy as a leader but declaring that defeating Islamic State remains the top US goal in Syria.

Rouhani also called for an investigation of the suspected chemical weapons attack in Syria last week, and he warned that the U.S. strikes in response risked escalating extremism in the region. "And I think it was important".

But last week's chemical weapons attack appears to mark a shift in rhetoric from Trump officials.

Russian Federation has warned that the USA missile strikes could have serious consequences for the region. Earlier, U.S. military officials had said they were looking into whether Russian Federation participated, possibly by using a drone to help eliminate evidence afterward. More than 80 people were killed in what the USA has described as a nerve gas attack that Assad's forces undoubtedly carried out.

  • Leroy Wright