On Thursday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that the United States is already making moves to organize an international coalition with the intention of removing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad from power, adding that Assad’s role in governing the Syrian people in the future is “uncertain.” Tillerson confirmed that President Trump is considering military action for the “serious matter” that “requires a serious response.” President Donald Trump said earlier on Thursday that he believes “something should happen” in Syria following the deadly chemical gas attack on Tuesday.
“Assad’s role in the future is uncertain, clearly, and with the acts that he has taken, it would seem that there would be no role for him to govern the Syrian people,” Tillerson told reporters.
“The process by which Assad would leave is something that I think requires and international community effort, both to first defeat ISIS within Syria, to stabilize the Syrian country to avoid further civil war, and then to work collectively with our partners around the world through a political process that would lead to Assad leaving,” the Secretary of State continued.
When asked if the president was looking to organize an international coalition to help in the effort, Tillerson responded that those steps are under way.
“Those steps are under way,” he said. “It’s a serious matter. It requires a serious response.”
On Thursday while speaking to reporters aboard Air Force One, President Trump said that “something should happen” in regard to Assad.
“I think what Assad did is terrible. I think what happened in Syria is one of the truly egregious crimes. It shouldn’t have happened. It shouldn’t be allowed to happen,” Trump said, as quoted by CNN. “I think what happened in Syria is a disgrace to humanity. He’s there, and I guess he’s running things, so something should happen.”
Fox News reported that Trump was set to receive a briefing from Mattis and McMaster about military options in Florida on Thursday. From Fox News:
In Florida, Trump also was set to receive a briefing Friday from Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster about military options that could be taken in retaliation for this week’s chemical weapons strike, Fox News has learned.
According to senior military officials, McMaster and Mattis traveled to Florida to attend meetings with Trump and visiting Chinese President Xi and planned to discuss possible military action Thursday afternoon.
CNN also reported that sources disclosed information that Trump told some members of Congress that he is considering taking military action in Syria. Senator John McCain, Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told reporters that it is his “understanding” that Trump is speaking to Secretary of Defense James Mattis along with national security advisor H.R. McMaster on the issue.