The US secretary of state has said he hopes Russia will abandon its support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad because actions such as last week’s chemical attack have stripped him of all legitimacy.
Rex Tillerson made the remarks at the conclusion on Tuesday in Italy of a meeting of foreign ministers of the Group of Seven (G7) and “like-minded” countries.
“It is clear to us the reign of the Assad family is coming to an end,” he said shortly before leaving the Tuscan city of Lucca for Moscow.
“We hope that the Russian government concludes that they have aligned themselves with an unreliable partner in Bashar al-Assad.”
A British proposal to slap extra sanctions on Syrian and Russian military officials, however, failed to win the support of the G7, Angelino Alfano, Italy’s foreign minister, said.
Alfano, who chaired Tuesday’s talks, said: “At this time there is no consensus for further new sanctions as an effective tool for reaching the objective that we have set ourselves.”
He also said that Russia should not be “pushed into a corner” over Syria, but that it should put pressure on Assad to stop the use of chemical weapons, and should join the international push for peace in Syria.
The Syrian government has denied it was behind the April 4 attack in the town of Khan Sheikhoun.
Russia has also rejected the accusations that Assad used chemical arms against his own people while stating that it will not cut its ties with him.