WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on U.S. air strikes on Syria (all times EDT):
The White House says British Prime Minister Theresa May and German Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany have expressed support for President Donald Trump’s decision to strike Syria in response to that country’s use of chemical weapons last week.
Trump had separate phone conversations Monday with May and Merkel. The White House says the leaders all agreed on the importance of holding Syrian President Bashar Assad “accountable.”
May and Merkel agreed to stay in touch with Trump about Syria.
The White House is backpedaling on comments made by press secretary Sean Spicer that the use of barrel bombs by Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government might lead to further military action by the United States.
Spicer appeared to draw a new red line for the Trump administration when he told reporters Monday that if a country gases a baby or puts “a barrel bomb into innocent people, I think you will see a response from this president.”
Until Monday the administration had maintained that last week’s airstrikes were in response to the Syrian government’s use of chemical weapons against its own citizens.
A White House spokesman says “nothing has changed in our posture” and the president retains the option to act if it’s in the national interest.
President Donald Trump has spoken with British Prime Minister Theresa May about U.S. strikes in Syria in retaliation for a chemical weapons attack on civilians.
The British Embassy in Washington says Trump thanked the prime minister Monday “for her support in the wake of last week’s U.S. military action against the Assad regime.”
The statement says there now exists “a window of opportunity” to convince Russia that its alliance with Syrian President Bashar Assad is no longer in its strategic interest.
They both expressed hope that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will make progress toward “a solution which will deliver a lasting political settlement” when he visits Moscow next week.
The two also discussed the regional threats posed by Iran and North Korea.
President Donald Trump’s national security adviser is calling on Russia to re-evaluate its support for Syrian President Bashar Assad, leaving open the possibility of additional U.S. military action against Syria.
In an interview on “Fox News Sunday,” H.R. McMaster pointed to dual U.S. goals of defeating the Islamic State group and removing Assad from power.
McMaster says Russia will have to decide whether it wanted to continue backing a “murderous regime” as Trump weighed next steps after ordering airstrikes last week.
He also says Russia should be asked how it didn’t know that Syria was planning a chemical attack since it had advisers at the Syrian airfield.
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