US Presses Russia to Distance Itself from Syria

The US is pressing Russia to distance itself from Syrian President Bashar al Assad following last week’s missile strike on an airfield and Assad’s use of chemical weapons. US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, speaking at a G7 summit Tuesday in Italy, said “I think it is clear to all of us that the reign of the Assad family is coming to an end; but the question of how that ends and the transition itself could be very important, in our view, to the durability, the stability inside of a unified Syria.” Russia has so far aligned itself with Assad, along with Iran and Hezbollah, in Syria and “is that a long-term alliance that serves Russia’s interest, or would Russia prefer to realign with the United States, with other Western countries and Middle East countries who are seeking to resolve the Syrian crisis?” Tillerson’s comments came before a visit to Moscow to discuss Syria with Russian officials. On Tuesday, the Russian military said Syrian militants who oppose Assad are planning to use chemical weapons and blame the Syrian government.