On Tuesday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson attended the G7 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting at the Palazzo Ducale in Lucca, Italy, and announced that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s rule is “coming to an end.” While speaking in front of reporters at the event, Tillerson said it was essential for Russia, which “has really aligned itself with the Assad regime, the Iranians and Hezbollah,” to pick a side when it came to Syria.
“It is clear to all of us that the reign of the Assad family is coming to an end,” the Secretary of State said. “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.”
“We see no further role for the Assad regime longer-term given that they have given up their legitimacy with these types of attacks,” he added.
Tillerson went on to say that Russia could play a role in rebuilding Syria’s future, or it could maintain its alliance with the current regime which would not be beneficial to Russian interests. He also criticized Russia, saying that it “has really aligned itself with the Assad regime, the Iranians and Hezbollah.”
“We want to create a future for Syria that is stable and secure,” Tillerson said. “And so Russia can be a part of that future and play an important role, or Russia can maintain its alliance with this group, which we believe is not going to serve Russia’s interest longer-term.”
Tillerson added that Russians didn’t look “so good” after Syria’s deadly gas attack last week because of its efforts to help the country obtain chemical weapons in 2013.
“Stockpiles and continued use demonstrate that Russia has failed in its responsibility to deliver on its 2013 commitment,” Tillerson said. “It is unclear whether Russia failed to take this obligation seriously or Russia has been incompetent but this distinction doesn’t much matter to the dead.”
Tillerson’s ultimatum to Russia came just hours before he was scheduled to arrive in Moscow to meet with Russian leaders, the first member of the Trump administration to do so.