BY REBECCA SAVRANSKY The Hill
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Sunday said Sen. Marco Rubio’s (R-Fla.) comments about the timing of past comments by the secretary of State and a chemical weapons attack in Syria were “regrettable.”
“I think that’s a regrettable comment on the part of Senator Rubio,” Tillerson said on CBS’s “Face The Nation.”
Last week, Rubio said it was no coincidence a chemical weapons attack in Syria came after Tillerson made comments suggesting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad could remain in power.
“In this case now, we have very limited options, and look, it’s concerning that the secretary of State … said that the future’s up to the people in Syria on what happens with Assad,” Rubio said on the radio show “AM Tampa Bay.”
“In essence, [Tillerson was] almost nodding to the idea that Assad was gonna get to stay in some capacity.”
“I don’t think it’s a coincidence that a few days later we see this,” Rubio added during the interview.
His comments came after Tillerson said at a joint news conference that “the longer-term status of President Assad will be decided by the Syrian people.”
Many human rights activists and anti-Assad advocates interpreted that to mean the U.S. would not work to oust the authoritarian leader.
“This was a continuation of a series of chemical weapons attack by Bashar al-Assad,” Tillerson told CBS on Sunday. “This was not the first. As you well know, there were two similar attacks in March. March the 25th, March the 30th in Hama. So this was yet another instance of Bashar al-Assad’s continued violation of the chemical weapons agreements.”