Tillerson: Russia aligns with Assad

Putin warns of chemical weapons'provocations to frame Assad

Washington responded to a chemical attack last week that killed dozens, including many children, with a missile strike against an Assad air base. "They should have the greatest influence on Bashar al-Assad, and certainly his decisions to use chemical weapons". "Nor can we accept the normalisation of the use of chemical weapons by other actors or countries in Syria or elsewhere", he added.

He said: "We want to relieve the suffering of the Syrian people".

"It reminds me of the events in 2003 when US envoys to the Security Council were demonstrating what they said were chemical weapons found in Iraq", Putin told reporters Tuesday, according to a translation by The Associated Press.

Washington's retaliation was slammed by Iran and North Korea and put it on a direct diplomatic collision course with Moscow, where Tillerson heads on Tuesday for talks with Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov.

The ministry said in a three-page statement issued ahead of Tillerson's arrival later on Tuesday that the outcome of the talks is important not only for the Russia-U.S. ties but "for the overall atmosphere on the world stage". Many U.S. lawmakers haven't accepted the rationale behind Russian intervention in Syria, and they are hopeful the U.S. can help persuade Russia to change its policy there.

Tillerson said it was clear the US saw no role for Assad in Syria's future, given that he had lost legitimacy.

Yet while G-7 countries are seeking clarity, Russian Federation - a former member of the group - has been perfectly clear about its own immediate reaction to recent events in Syria.

Tillerson's mission, coming days after 59 Tomahawk missiles struck a Syrian air base, also carries serious risks: If Russia brushes off the warnings, President Donald Trump could be forced into another show of force in Syria or see his credibility wane.

The United States has sought to minimize expectations for the trip or the likelihood that the USA will leave with any Russian concessions on Syria.

But the official said the presence of the surveillance drone over the hospital couldn't have been a coincidence, and that Russian Federation must have known the chemical weapons attack was coming and that victims were seeking treatment. "It is unclear whether Russian Federation failed to take this obligation serious or Russian Federation has been incompetent", Tillerson said. The anonymous official claims this was to distract attention away from the use of a chemical weapon. "Or would Russian Federation prefer to realign with the United States, with other Western countries and Middle East countries that are seeking to resolve the Syrian crisis?"

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

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson arrived in Moscow Tuesday with an ultimatum for Russia: Side with the U.S. and likeminded countries on Syria, or embrace Iran, militant group Hezbollah and embattled Syrian leader Bashar Assad.

"But this distinction doesn't much matter to the dead".

When pressed by the questioner on how he was so confident that Russian Federation would not follow through with its threats of reprisal if the U.S. strikes Syria again, Mattis stayed on message. One government official after another has suggested they would like to see Assad gone, but not elaborated on whether it's an immediate USA priority.

He says of the recent chemical attack: "We can not let this happen again".

"Is that a long term alliance that serves Russia's interests?"

"We rededicate ourselves to holding to account any and all who commit crimes against the innocents anywhere in the world", Tillerson said during a visit to a World War II memorial to Italian civilian victims of the Nazis.

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