Russia knew in advance of Syrian chemical attack, U.S. officials conclude

Cheryl Sanders
April 11, 2017

As he laid a wreath, he alluded to the Syria chemical attack.

Russian Federation has rejected accusations that Assad used chemical arms against his own people and has said it will not cut its ties with Assad, who has been locked in a six-year-old civil war that has devastated Syria and displaced half its population.

A spokeswoman for May said Washington and London had agreed that there was a "window of opportunity" to persuade Syria's longtime ally Russian Federation to sever its links with Assad.

Another unanswered question: Did Trump's strike set a precedent that any chemical attack will trigger a USA response?

"And those countries must also be part of the solution as we hold the Assad regime to account and as we move tangibly forward as an worldwide community to ending this conflict in Syria".

In a shift in Washington's strategy, U.S. missiles hit a Syrian air base last week in retaliation for what the United States and its allies say was a poison gas attack by Syria's military in which scores of civilians died.

On Monday, the tension was only mounting.

Speaking from Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, where Trump was meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Tillerson cited Russia's 2013 agreement to oversee the destruction of Syria's chemical stockpile, saying Russian Federation has "clearly failed in its responsibility" to eliminate those weapons.

The U.S. said it has evidence Russia's military helped cover up the use of chemical weapons. A joint command centre made up of the forces of Russia, Iran and militias supporting the Syrian president said on Sunday that the US strike crossed "red lines" and it would respond to any new aggression and increase its support for its ally.

"The sight of people being gassed and blown away by barrel bombs ensures. we hold open the possibility of future action", Spicer said without prompting earlier in the briefing.

"If you gas a baby or drop a barrel bomb onto innocent people, you will see a response from" President Donald Trump, Spicer said. "Nothing has changed in our posture", a White House official said in a written statement.

The Associated Press reported on Monday that USA officials said a Russian-made fighter jet bombed a hospital where victims of the attack, which killed 87 people, sought treatment.

Assad's allies have been robust in their response, however.

It came hours before Tillerson was to make a tense trip to Moscow to press Russia's leaders to finally abandon their support for Assad. Various news reports said that coalition released a statement with a warning: "From now on we will respond to anyone, including America if it attacks Syria and crosses the red lines".

"Crucially, they could do so again", Johnson said.

However Washington's Syria policy remains unclear to many, with Mr Tillerson saying that there had been "no change to our military posture" in Syria following the U.S. airbase strike and that Washington's "first priority" was to defeat so-called Islamic State (IS).

Yet the USA has sent mixed messages about what it wants in the short term; it's not even clear whether Washington intends to help oust Assad. "They are still not giving up on working with the Trump administration".

His warning came as White House spokesman Sean Spicer appeared to lower the threshold for new U.S. action against Assad to include barrel bombs, a crude yet hugely destructive weapon of choice for the Syrian leader.

But there was no escaping the here and now, with the attack in Syria still fresh on everyone's mind.

Other reports by iNewsToday