Tillerson: 'Reign of the Assad family is coming to an end' in Syria

Tillerson: 'Reign of the Assad family is coming to an end' in Syria
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Secretary of State Rex TillersonRex Wayne TillersonOvernight Defense: Trump recognizes Jerusalem as Israel's capital | Mattis, Tillerson reportedly opposed move | Pentagon admits 2,000 US troops are in Syria | Trump calls on Saudis to 'immediately' lift Yemen blockade Trump has yet to name ambassadors to key nations in Mideast Mattis, Tillerson warned Trump of security concerns in Israel embassy move MORE on Thursday said that the rule of Syrian President Bashar Assad and his family are "coming to an end" in Damascus, and that his departure should be brought about by peace talks.

"It’s our view that — and I’ve said this many times as well — that we do not believe there is a future for the Assad regime, the Assad family. I think I’ve said it on a number of occasions," Tillerson said, speaking to reporters in Geneva on the last leg of a nearly weeklong trip that also took the secretary to the Middle East and Asia.

Tillerson said the U.S. wants Syria to remain unified as part of a peace agreement, but there must not be a role for Assad in the government.

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"The reign of the Assad family is coming to an end," he added. "And the only issue is how should that be brought about."

The U.S. has long pushed for Assad's removal from power through peace talks. Shortly after Tillerson's comments, Staffan de Mistura, the United Nations' top Syria envoy, announced that talks would resume in Geneva on Nov. 28.

But even with the U.N.-supported peace talks resuming, negotiations remain uncertain. Separate peace talks backed by Iran, Turkey and Russia are set to take place next week in Astana, Kazakhstan.

Tillerson's comments also emphasized the waning presence of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which the secretary of State cast as an opportunity to renew the peace process in Syria. U.S.-backed forces declared last week that they had retaken Raqqa, ISIS's de facto capital city, from the group. The victory dealt a major blow to the militant group.

"With ISIS on the brink of defeat, we continue our efforts to de-escalate the violence in Syria and support the Geneva process called for under U.N. Security Council Resolution 2254 to allow the Syrian people to chart a new political course," Tillerson said.  

"As we’ve said many times before, the United States wants a whole and unified Syria with no role for Bashar al-Assad in the government," he added.