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Tillerson issues tough ultimatum to Putin on Syria

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is reportedly reconsidering his role within the Trump adminstration. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson issued a ultimatum to Russian President Vladimir Putin over his support of Bashar al-Assad in Syria. He made the comments Tuesday to reporters after a meeting with diplomats in Italy.

Tillerson pressured the G-7 countries to join together against Assad's regime, and demanded that Putin choose between his ally in Syria accused of war crimes and Hezbollah, or join his detractors, led by the United States. He also made it clear that the United States placed at least part of the blame on Russia for the chemical attack.

"Last week Bashar al-Assad's regime killed even more of its own people using chemical weapons," he explained. "Our missile strike in response to his repeated use of banned weapons was necessary as a matter of U.S. national security interests. We do not want the regime's uncontrolled stockpile of chemical weapons to fall into the hands of ISIS, or other terrorist groups who could and want to attack the United States and our allies."

"Nor can we accept the normalization of the use of chemical weapons by other actors or countries in Syria, or elsewhere," he continued. "The U.S. is grateful for the statements of all our partners who have express support for our timely and proportional response."

"It is also clear that Russia has failed to uphold the agreements they had entered into under multiple U.N. Security Council resolutions," Tillerson added. "These agreements stipulated Russia as the guarantor of a Syria free of chemical weapons, that they would also locate and destroy all such armaments in Syria. Stockpiles and continued use demonstrate that Russia has failed in its responsibility to deliver on its 2013 commitment. 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," he concluded. "We cannot let this happen again"

"We want to relieve the suffering of the Syrian people. Russia can be a part of that future and play an important role," Tillerson said, "Or Russia can maintain its alliance with this group, which we believe is not going to serve Russia’s interests longer term."

Syria isn't the only geopolitical hotspot causing heartburn for the Trump administration. North Korea is issuing threats of war after the U.S. Navy was ordered to the Korean Peninsula in response to their continued nuclear weapon tests.

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