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President Trump last week ordered the US military to conduct airstrikes on the Syrian airfield believed to have launched a chemical weapons attack that killed at least 70 civilians.

Speaking to "Face the Nation" host John Dickerson, Tillerson was asked directly if it is now a priority for America to get Syrian President Bashar al-Assad out of power in the wake of the chemical attack that his regime is being blamed for.

In the wide-ranging ABC interview, Tillerson also said the USA has "no objective" to change North Korea's regime as Kim Jong Un continues to ramp up Pyongyang's nuclear program, and that there's no reason for the lift sanctions placed on Russian Federation following its annexation of Crimea in 2014.

Tillerson is due to meet Lavrov in Moscow next week.

Rubio said noted Tillerson's comments are different from Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the United Nations, who said Assad should be removed. Tillerson said at the time that "steps are underway" to form an global coalition that would seek to remove al-Assad through some kind of negotiated settlement.

The White House says President Donald Trump spoke with Saudi Arabia's king about Syria and he "reaffirmed strong Saudi support for the United States' military strike against the Sayrat airfield". "It is to the benefit of all parties operating in the air over Syria to avoid accidents and miscalculation, and we hope the Russian Ministry of Defence comes to this conclusion as well", Baldanza said.

McMaster echoed Tillerson's comments in an interview on Fox News with Chris Wallace.

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In response, Syria's ally Russian Federation accused the United States of encouraging "terrorists" with unilateral actions.

Russian Federation has backed Syria for much of the six-year conflict, and has used its veto power in the UN Security Council on several occasions to prevent action being taken against the Damascus government. "It also makes good sense before we commit our military and our men and women in uniform to any sort of conflict".

Trump sent a letter Sunday to Congress that explained why he acted, the details of the attack, asserted his constitutional authority to act and affirmed his efforts to "keep Congress informed".

On Sunday, Rubio said on ABC he supported the airstrike and "I don't think you use the USA military simply to send a message".

"It was a very deliberate, very proportional, and very targeted strike undertaken in response to the chemical weapons attack".

In January, Mr Johnson said Assad should be allowed to run for election to remain in power in Syria and warned that Britain may have to "think afresh" about how to handle the crisis after failing to live up to its mantra that the dictator must go.

Sen. Lindsey Graham on Sunday called for as many as 6,000 more US troops to fight the Islamic State. The Iraq government had on Friday released a statement condemning the chemical attack but also criticising the American response as "hasty".

  • Adam Floyd