Major Policy Shift: Secretary of State Tillerson Says Assad Can No Longer Govern

Posted: Apr 06, 2017 3:10 PM

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson confirmed Thursday the White House has started organizing the international community to respond to the chemical weapons attack in Syria earlier this week. He also said Assad can no longer govern, implying he should be removed from office.

"Conversations are already underway," Tillerson said. "There would be no role for him to govern the Syrian people."

This signals a major shift in Trump administration policy on Syria. It also shows the U.S. government believes Assad is behind the chemical attack, something he and the Russian government propping him up deny.

"What Assad did is terrible. What happened in Syria is truly one of the egregious crimes and it shouldn’t have happened. And it shouldn’t be allow to happen,” President Trump said from aboard Air Force One in Florida about the situation. “I think what happened in Syria is a disgrace to humanity, and he’s there, and I guess he’s running things, so I guess something should happen.”

“I don’t want to say what I’m going to be doing with respect to Syria," he continued. 

Earlier today news broke the White House is considering military action against the Assad regime. Further, Tillerson placed a phone call to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and urged him to rethink Russia's backing of the Assad regime.

Tillerson's remarks Thursday signify a major shift in administration policy. Just last week Tillerson said the fate of Assad is up to the Syrian people.

This post has been updated with additional information.