U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley [profile] told CNN in an interview set to air Sunday that removing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad [Al Jazeera profile] from power in Syria is one of the top priorities of Donald Trump’s administration. Haley said that it was hard to see a peaceful and stable Syria with Assad as president [CNN report], based on his action and the current situation in Syria. The sentiment was supported by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who on Sunday said in an interview with ABC news [ABC report], that once the threat of ISIS had been reduced, the US would focus on stabilizing the situation in Syria. The comments from the Trump administration signal a new course in the foreign policy regarding Syria. A week ago, Haley and Tillerson said that the US was not working towards unseating Assad, and that such a decision should be up to the Syrian people. The change in direction comes in response to reports that Assad used chemical weapons against civilians, which President Trump said had crossed a line with him.
The war in Syria [JURIST backgrounder] continues to have a devastating impact, particularly in the war-torn region of Aleppo. In February, according to Human Rights Watch, the Syrian government carried out [JURIST report] “coordinated chemical attacks” on rebel-controlled portions of Aleppo. On Wednesday The UN Security Council met for emergency talks regarding an alleged chemical attack in Syria that killed numerous civilians [JURIST report]. On Thursdays, in response to the chemical attaks in Syria, President Trump ordered a missile attack [BBC report] on a government controlled air base in Syria.