US says Russian Federation should abandon support of Syria's Assad

Carla Harmon
April 12, 2017

The implication is that Russian Federation was complicit in the horrific chemical attack orchestrated by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, he noted, "and there's no evidence of that".

"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.

The Canadian government strongly supported the US government's April 7 air strikes against Syria - the first by Washington since the Mideast country's civil war began - because it was a response to the April 4 chemical gas attack.

The official said the drone's presence could not have been a coincidence and that Russian Federation must have known the chemical-weapons attack was coming and that victims were seeking treatment.

Yet the US has sent mixed messages about what it wants in the short term; it's not even clear whether Washington intends to help oust Assad.

The meeting in the Tuscan walled city of Lucca brings together U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, along with other G-7 foreign ministers, at a moment when the United States is sending a Navy carrier strike group toward the Korean Peninsula to provide a physical presence following North Korea's persistent ballistic missile tests.

Putin also said Russian Federation has received intelligence about planned "provocations" using chemical weapons that would put the blame on the Syrian government.

But he also said there had been "no change to our military posture" in Syria following the U.S. retaliatory strike and that Washington's "first priority" in Syria was to defeat so-called Islamic State (IS).

Moscow says there is no proof that the Syrian military carried out the attack, and called the USA missile strike an act of aggression that violates global law.

Until Trump ordered US missile strikes in response to the April 4 nerve gas attack, the president had focused on defeating the Islamic State group and had shown no appetite for challenging Assad - and, by extension, his Russian supporter President Vladimir Putin.

So the mood music isn't good as Tillerson prepares to leave Italy for Moscow Tuesday evening, amid threats of new "red lines" from Russian Federation and Iran over further US strikes.

Hours before Tillerson was set to leave for Moscow he met on the sidelines of a G7 foreign ministers meeting in Italy with other diplomats to discuss how to put an end to the six-year-long Syrian civil war.

TILLERSON, U.S. Secretary of State: We rededicate ourselves to holding to account any and all who commit crimes against the innocents anywhere in the world.

Putin even personally awarded Tillerson a top Russian state award - the Order of Friendship - in 2013, and it was widely expected that the former oilman would meet Putin on what is his first trip to Russia as secretary of state.

U.S. Senator John McCain accused Russian Federation on Monday of having cooperated with Syrian government forces in a chemical weapons attack that has killed more than 80 people, including more than a dozen children.

The U.S. received broad support from Europe after the airstrikes. Meanwhile, the White House refuted reports that Russian Federation had prior information about the use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime last week. So far, the messages out of the White House have been mixed, as Reuters notes: Tillerson said this weekend "that the defeat of Islamic State remained the U.S. priority, while U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said "regime change" in Syria was also a priority for Trump".

"The President came into office to really focus on two fronts: keeping our country safe and growing our economy and putting people back to work", Spicer said. Tillerson said it was clear the US saw no role for Assad in Syria's future, given that he had lost legitimacy.

The hinting that its true long-term goal in striking the airfield was to send a political message - that long-term peace in Syria will require changes in government, and the countries backing Assad should stop keeping him in place.

Other reports by iNewsToday