The U.S. strike, conducted against the air base from which the U.S. believes the aircraft carrying chemical weapons flew from, was related “solely” to the chemical attack, Tillerson told ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos. “Other than that, there is no change to our military posture” in Syria.
“In no way do we see peace in that area with Assad as the head of the Syrian government," she told Chuck Todd on NBC’s "Meet the Press" on Sunday. “We've got to go and make sure that we actually see a leader that will protect his people. And clearly, Assad is not that person.”
Haley like Tillerson said the U.S. remains focused on eliminating ISIS from Syria. But while Tillerson told ABC the terror group is the United States’ first priority, Haley said there can be “multiple priorities," including ensuring the nation is led by someone who takes care of civilians.
“What Ambassador Haley pointed out is it's very difficult to understand how a political solution could result from the continuation of the Assad regime,” McMaster said. But, he added, "We are not saying that we are the ones who are going to affect that change.”
“There has to be a degree of simultaneous activity as well as sequencing of the defeat of ISIS first,” McMaster continued. He said a resolution to the Syrian conflict would involve ISIS’s defeat as well as “a significant change in the nature of the Assad regime.”
“This is the first time the United States has acted directly against the Assad regime," McMaster said of Thursday's airstrike.
President Trump sent a "strong message to Assad and to his sponsors who are enabling his campaign of mass murder against his own civilians,” the national security adviser said.