In First Comments, Assad Claims Syria Chemical Attack '100 Percent Fabrication'

The United States and Russia have laid bare their deep and unsafe divides on Syria and other matters, as U.S. secretary of state Rex Tillerson left an nearly two-hour meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin with the sense the countries have reached a "low point" in relations.

World leaders had wanted an investigation into the chemical attack in Idlib last week, which prompted a retaliatory U.S. missile strike.

Striving to salvage ties amid a fierce dispute over Syria, the United States and Russian Federation on Wednesday agreed to work together on an worldwide investigation of a Syrian chemical weapons attack last week that prompted retaliatory American missile strikes. The jet dropped sarin on the western Syrian village of Khan Sheikhoun, killing at least 70 civilians.

According to the report, the official underlined that the US did not know in advance that the attack was going to take place.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday that trust had eroded between the two countries under US President Donald Trump.

Mr. Putin has routinely met visiting U.S. secretaries of state since first coming to the presidency in 2000, so not meeting Mr. Tillerson (whose appointment was briefly opposed by U.S. Democrats and Republicans who anxious the former Exxon Mobil chief executive had too many ties to Russia) would have been a significant diplomatic snub. But he also said Russian President Vladimir Putin was open to re-establishing it.

"There was no order to make any attack, we don't have any chemical weapons, we gave up our arsenal a few years ago", he said.

He named two conditions.

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Tillerson avoided giving specific details of how Assad would leave power, saying, "We leave that to the process going forward". The second condition was the United States conduct no additional strikes on government targets.

The strains in ties were clear as US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson received a frosty reception Wednesday on a visit to Moscow.

Speaking at the same news conference, Mr Tillerson admitted the current US-Russia relations were at a "low point" but sounded optimistic about future negotiations on the crisis in Syria.

"It'd be a fantastic thing if we got along with Putin and if we got along with Russia", Trump said.

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said the veto "puts Russian Federation on the wrong side of the argument", while French President Francois Hollande warned Russian Federation it "bears a heavy responsibility" for continuing to protect Assad.

But Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, referring to Iraq, said, "Experiments like that, which are built on an obsession with overthrowing dictators, totalitarian or authoritarian leaders, we have already seen. And it was very, very successfully done".

Air Force Col. John Dorrian, the Baghdad-based spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve, said Wednesday that the Pentagon would no longer discuss the deconfliction line because it has become political. "I think it's very bad for mankind", Trump said.

Russian Federation effectively hid from public view the hit that the Kremlin took to its standing in the region because of the chemical weapons attack, presumably by Assad. "Russia is engaged in a very sophisticated propaganda and disinformation campaign that is created to allow the Assad regime escape responsibility". U.S. -Russia relations were supposed to improve under the Trump administration. The strike came as a response to the suspected chemical attack on the Syrian town of Khan-Sheikhoun in Syria's Idlib region on April 4 and targeted what Washington claims was a starting location for the attack.

  • Regina Walsh