Putin says he expects U.S. 'fake' gas attacks to discredit Assad

He told ministers in Lucca last week USA missile strikes were necessary as a matter of US national security, and indicated the Trump administration may not be done with Assad.

The trip to Moscow comes just days after a US missile strike hit a Syrian government air base in response to a poisonous gas attack that the USA and its allies believe was carried out by forces loyal to the Syrian president - though the Russians say there is no proof of this claim.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson meanwhile plans to meet with G-7 foreign ministers in Europe next week before going on to Moscow.

Foreign ministers from the Group of Seven industrialized nations are expected to call Tuesday for a new worldwide push to end the war in Syria, but are divided on whether to threaten new sanctions or other tough measures to pressure Russian Federation over its support of President Bashar Assad.

"Russia can be a part of that future and play an important role", U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said.

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem has denied the government's involvement in the Idlib incident, saying it would never use chemical weapons on either civilians or terrorists operating in the country.

Thursday's strike involved 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles targeting the Shayrat Air Base near the Syrian city of Homs, the alleged site of the gas attack two days before.

Trump had previously appeared disinclined to intervene against the Syrian leader and the attack raised expectations that he might now be ready to adopt a tougher-than-expected stance with Russia, Assad's main backer.

Britain said it "fully supported" the United States strikes and both countries have put pressure on Russian Federation to stop backing the Syrian regime, with British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson cancelling a visit to Moscow scheduled for Monday.

John McCain said on Monday that Russian Federation "knew about chemical weapons because they were operating exactly from the same base". Rouhani said the USA strike would not affect Iran's Syria policy, while Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Iran would not withdraw in the face of similar aggressions.

The White House later on Monday said Trump had spoken with May and separately with German Chancellor Angela Merkel by telephone about the USA attack and thanked them for their support.

In Moscow, Markov and a number of other analysts said, the USA strikes were viewed most likely as a prop to boost Trump's slumped support at home, not to change things in Syria.

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 USA strikes.

The White House warns Syria that further use of chemical weapons or barrel bombs could bring U.S. military retaliation.

Protesters gather during a rally against the USA missile strikes in Syria, Friday, April 7, 2017, in NY.

In hitting just a single air base, the overnight strikes were also much more limited than the military action Washington was considering after the 2013 chemical attack.

Tillerson has taken a tough line in recent days, calling Russian Federation either complicit in allowing Syria to retain chemical weapons or incompetent in not knowing Assad still had them.

Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, the no. 2 Republican in the Senate, praised Trump's initial missile strike for sending a message to Assad, Russia, Iran and North Korea that "there's a new administration in charge".

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