After Syria attack, Tillerson vows to defend innocents

"Countries that have been supportive of the Assad regime bear some of the responsibility for the chemical attacks on innocents, civilians, on children last week", he said.

Though such comments hint at a more activist US foreign policy focused on preventing humanitarian atrocities, Trump has consistently suggested he prefers the opposite approach.

"We rededicate ourselves to holding to account any and all who commit crimes against the innocents anywhere in the world", he said after he and other ministers lay a red wreath at the foot of the site's memorial.

Looking to build their case against Assad, Italy has invited the foreign ministers from Turkey, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Jordan and Qatar to sit down with the G7 group on Tuesday morning to discuss Syria.

"I hope Russian Federation is thinking carefully about its continued alliance with Bashar al-Assad, because every time one of these horrific attacks occurs, it draws Russian Federation closer into some level of responsibility", Tillerson said on ABC's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" on Sunday.

The Trump administration has also deployed an aircraft carrier group to the waters of North Korea, after the nuclear-armed hermit kingdom conducted several more missile tests in recent weeks.

No component of Trump's Syria policy has engendered more confusion than Assad's future - an issue that similarly befuddled the Obama administration, whose once-adamant position that Assad must go softened substantially by the time President Barack Obama left office in January.

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Successive attempts by top Trump administration officials to articulate a plan have only furthered the appearance of a policy still evolving, even after the US broke with precedent last week by attacking Assad's forces.

On top of Syria, Tillerson will likely also address Russia's meddling in the USA presidential election and accusations that the Kremlin has violated an anti-missile treaty. On Monday, the US upped the stakes significantly by accusing Russia of knowing in advance of the chemical attack and using a Russian-operated drone to help cover it up.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, whose government is another backer of Assad's, also called for an independent inquiry under United Nations auspices when he spoke Monday to Alfano, Italy's foreign ministry said in a statement.

The flipside of the talk about sanctions from Johnson and other diplomats is an implicit promise that Moscow could be allowed to rejoin the G-8, if it drops its support for Assad.

The British foreign secretary had been due to visit Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov in Moscow before the G-7 meeting.

Johnson said he was keen to seen further sanctions imposed on both Syrian and Russian "military figures".

His decision drew taunts from opponents that Johnson was a "poodle" of the Americans who had been told to stay home so he would not upstage Tillerson.

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We've said it before, we'll say it again: America has no business intervening in Syria.

But Tillerson was more equivocal, saying that the priority was the defeat of ISIS.

Although the U.S.'s attack on Syria was met with outrage from Russian Federation, it could give Tillerson a leg up in the talks, said Antony Blinken, a deputy to former Secretary of State John Kerry.

The mixed messages have confused and frustrated European allies, who are eager for full US support for a political solution based on a transfer of power in Damascus. And it has has ravaged the nation: About 400,000 Syrians have died in the fighting, according to humanitarian groups, and almost 5 million people have fled the nation as refugees, contributing to an global refugee crisis with many European nations struggling to cope with an influx of migrants.

In a round of television interviews that aired Sunday, though, Tillerson said the top US priority in the region remains the defeat of Islamic State militants.

Before the chemical attack, Trump's administration had insisted that removing Assad was not a priority and said the U.S.'s work in Syria would focus on driving out ISIS. "To prevent military violence to escalate on and on, it's all about this".

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