U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson carried a message from world powers to Moscow on Tuesday denouncing Russian support for Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, as the Trump administration took on America’s traditional mantle as leader of a unified West. Tillerson flew on the administration’s first cabinet mission to Russia after meeting foreign ministers from the Group of Seven advanced economies and Middle Eastern allies in Italy. They endorsed a joint call for Russia to abandon Assad. The administration of President Donald Trump, which came to power in January calling for warmer ties with Russia, was thrust into confrontation with Moscow last week when a poison gas attack in northern Syria killed 87 people.
al-Assad on Sunday said the U.S. 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. The United States fired dozens of cruise missiles at a Syrian air base on Friday from which it said a deadly chemical weapons attack had been launched earlier in the week, escalating the U.S. role in Syria and drawing criticism from Assad’s allies including Russia and Iran.