After Syria attack, Tillerson vows to defend innocents - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

After Syria attack, Tillerson vows to defend innocents

Posted: Updated:

By JOSH LEDERMAN
Associated Press

SANT'ANNA DI STAZZEMA, Italy (AP) - U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson used a visit Monday to a World War II memorial to declare that the United States will stand up to aggressors who harm civilians, as the Trump administration sought to rally world leaders behind a strategy to resolve Syria's protracted civil war.

Opening his visit to Italy, Tillerson traveled up a winding mountain road to Sant'Anna di Stazzema, the Tuscan village where the Nazis massacred more than 500 civilians during World War II. As he laid a wreath at the site, Tillerson alluded to the chemical attack in Syria last week that triggered retaliatory U.S. airstrikes.

"We rededicate ourselves to holding to account any and all who commit crimes against the innocents anywhere in the world," Tillerson said. "This place will serve as an inspiration to us all."

Tillerson's visit to Europe has been overshadowed from the start by President Donald Trump's decision to punish Syrian President Bashar Assad for using chemical weapons by launching cruise missiles at a Syrian air base. The U.S. military action has renewed the world's focus on Assad's fate and on Syria's civil war, now in its seventh year.

The secretary of state's pledge to stand up for innocents came as Assad has continued to attack civilians in Syria in the days since the U.S. airstrikes - including in the part of Idlib province where the chemical attack occurred. And while other U.S. airstrikes in Syria have targeted the Islamic State group, the U.S. has acknowledged that civilian casualties sometimes occur.

Tillerson plans to use his meetings with foreign ministers from the Group of 7 industrialized economies - normally a venue for wonky economic discussions - to try to persuade leading countries to support the U.S. plan. The centerpiece of that diplomacy will come Tuesday morning when Tillerson takes part in a meeting of "likeminded" nations on Syria, including several Arab nations invited to attend.

The top American diplomat began to deliver that message on Monday when he met on the sidelines of the G-7 with British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault. Both countries have voiced support for the U.S. response to Assad's chemical weapons use.

The Trump administration is hoping that after defeating the Islamic State group in Syria, it can restore stability by securing local cease-fires between Assad's government and opposition groups that allow local leaders who have fled to return and by restoring basic services. The next step would be to use U.N. talks to negotiate a political transition that could include Assad leaving power.

From Italy, Tillerson will travel to Moscow, becoming the first Trump administration official to visit Russia. That trip, too, is fraught with tension over Syria: Tillerson has blamed Russia, Assad's strongest ally, of either complicity or incompetence for allowing Assad to possess and use chemical weapons.

___

Reach Josh Lederman on Twitter at http://twitter.com/joshledermanAP

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • More From wfmj.comHot ClicksMore>>

  • Thousands sing 'Happy Birthday' to Queen Elizabeth II

    Thousands sing 'Happy Birthday' to Queen Elizabeth II

    Sunday, April 22 2018 8:25 PM EDT2018-04-23 00:25:36 GMT
    (Toby Melville/Pool Photo via AP). Britain's Queen Elizabeth raises her glass during speeches at The Queen's Dinner, during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting at Buckingham Palace in London, Thursday, April 19, 2018.(Toby Melville/Pool Photo via AP). Britain's Queen Elizabeth raises her glass during speeches at The Queen's Dinner, during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting at Buckingham Palace in London, Thursday, April 19, 2018.
    Queen Elizabeth II is marking her 92nd birthday with a star-studded concert in London.More >>
    Queen Elizabeth II is marking her 92nd birthday with a star-studded concert in London.More >>
  • 420's long, strange trip to pot holiday began in California

    420's long, strange trip to pot holiday began in California

    Sunday, April 22 2018 2:58 PM EDT2018-04-22 18:58:12 GMT
    (AP Photo/Eric Risberg). In this Friday, April 13, 2018, photo, the Waldos, from left, Mark Gravitch, Larry Schwartz, Dave Reddix, Steve Capper and Jeffrey Noel pose below a statue of Louis Pasteur at San Rafael High School in San Rafael, Calif. Friday...(AP Photo/Eric Risberg). In this Friday, April 13, 2018, photo, the Waldos, from left, Mark Gravitch, Larry Schwartz, Dave Reddix, Steve Capper and Jeffrey Noel pose below a statue of Louis Pasteur at San Rafael High School in San Rafael, Calif. Friday...
    Where are The Waldos? Not far from the San Francisco Bay Area high school where in 1971 the five buddies' search for a marijuana patch gave birth to the term 420, now the date for marijuana's high holiday and...More >>
    Where are The Waldos? Not far from the San Francisco Bay Area high school where in 1971 the five buddies' search for a marijuana patch gave birth to the term 420, now the date for marijuana's high holiday and universal slang for smoking weed.More >>
  • Trump says he doesn't think personal lawyer will 'flip'

    Trump says he doesn't think personal lawyer will 'flip'

    Sunday, April 22 2018 11:07 AM EDT2018-04-22 15:07:32 GMT
    (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File). FILE - In a Monday, April 16, 2018, file photo, Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's personal attorney, center, leaves federal court, in New York. Federal prosecutors said they can give President Donald Trump's person...(AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File). FILE - In a Monday, April 16, 2018, file photo, Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's personal attorney, center, leaves federal court, in New York. Federal prosecutors said they can give President Donald Trump's person...
    President Donald Trump says he doesn't expect personal lawyer Michael Cohen to "flip" as the government investigates Cohen's business dealings.More >>
    President Donald Trump says he doesn't expect personal lawyer Michael Cohen to "flip" as the government investigates Cohen's business dealings.More >>
Powered by Frankly
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2018 WFMJ. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms