Russian Federation and Iran affirm commitment to Syrian government

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani Saturday criticized his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump for the missile attack on the Syrian airbase. "If we say democracy, let's take this step", he said.

In a phone call with Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad, Rouhani told him, "Allegations that Syria launched the chemical attack were just a pretext to disrupt the Syrian peace process", according to Press TV.

USA officials said the presence of Russian advisers at the air field used to launch the attack raised questions about how they could not have known. "Russian Federation should ask themselves, 'What are we doing here?'" McMaster said.

Haley stopped short of calling for regime change in Syria, but said President Donald Trump and the administration is deeply skeptical a peaceful solution is possible with Bashar al-Assad in power. Both countries belong to the USA -led coalition fighting Islamic State militants in Syria.

Reluctant to put significant troops on the ground in Syria, the US for years has struggled to prevent Assad from strengthening his hold on power. So Trump's decision to launch the strikes - which President Barack Obama declined to do after a 2013 chemical attack - has raised optimism among rebels that Trump will more directly confront Assad.

Both Tillerson and H.R. McMaster, Trump's national security adviser, said defeating Daesh remained the administration's first priority, with the strategy for stabilising Syria a longer-term political effort that could involve Russian Federation.

Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, the no. 2 Republican in the Senate, praised Trump's initial missile strike for sending a message to Assad, Russia, Iran and North Korea that "there's a new administration in charge".

"Congress needs to work with the president to try and deal with this long-term strategy, lack of strategy, really, in Syria", he said.

Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, agreed.

They also see Russian Federation as a foreign occupier whose relentless aerial bombardment of rebel-held areas has led to thousands of civilian casualties.

Until her appointment in January, the former SC governor had never been involved in worldwide politics or foreign relations before.

"The failure related to the recent strike and the recent awful chemical weapons attack in large measure is a failure on Russia's part to achieve its commitment to the global community", he added.

Tillerson, on the other hand, stressed that the air strike had the limited aim of deterring further use of chemical weapons. Once that threat "has been reduced or eliminated, I think we can turn our attention directly to stabilizing the situation in Syria", he said.

British Defence Secretary Michael Fallon criticised Russia's support of Assad, describing the chemical attack as a war crime that happened "on their watch".

Rouhani said the USA strike would not affect Iran's Syria policy, while Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Iran would not withdraw in the face of similar aggressions.

"The entire administration was in agreement that this was something that had to be done", Nikki Haley, the USA ambassador to the United Nations, said on NBC's "Meet the Press".

Appearing on CNN'S State of the Union, Haley called this week's actions "really one of the president's finest hours".


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