Russian Federation 'providing cover' for Syria's Bashar Assad, US says

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Though meant to punish Assad for a chemical weapons attack, the US strikes last week served to refocus the world's attention on the bloody war in Syria, now in its seventh year.

"The president retains the option to act in Syria against the Assad regime whenever it is in the national interest, as was determined following that government's use of chemical weapons against its own citizens". And then the evidence comes out and we see exactly what it is.

But doing anything like this, especially when Assad is receiving strong support from Russia, Iran, and Hezbollah, is not something that the Trump administration is able, or even willing, to attempt.

Haley herself has said that removing Assad from power is a priority, cementing an extraordinary U-turn in the Trump administration's stance on the embattled leader.

In the wake of the attacks, Russian Federation attempted to shift the blame, suggesting that a terrorist warehouse containing chemical weapons was struck during a Syrian airstrike.

Tillerson is due to arrive in Moscow later on Tuesday, in what will be followed by talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov scheduled for April 12.

"The combination of the horrendous chemical weapons attack and the strong USA response has created the possibility of some real political movement, and that is why there was so much focus on Syria at the meeting", Freeland told a conference call today. "By continuing to support a man who gasses his own people he is damaging Russian Federation further in the eyes of the world", said the foreign minister.

"I think reality is setting in about how hard a partner (Russian President) Vladimir Putin will be, and I think events in Syria have underlined that for the administration", he added.

It provided a warning to hostile governments and terrorists about USA resolve and bolstered our allies by demonstrating that our country is capable of forceful, focused action when needed. Putin has called for a formal United Nations investigation.

The top American diplomat plans to use his meetings with foreign ministers from the Group of 7 industrialised economies - normally a venue for wonky economic discussions - to try to persuade leading countries to support the USA plan.

"Russia is on an island", Spicer said.

Before he left for Russia, Tillerson told reporters that Moscow either did not take its obligation to rid Syria of chemical weapons seriously, or it had been incompetent.

"They agreed that US Secretary of State (Rex) Tillerson's visit to Moscow this week provides an opportunity to make progress towards a solution which will deliver a lasting political settlement".

The accusations drawn from a US National Security Council report claim Moscow and Damascus released "false narratives" in response to the Syrian gas attack. "I think this President has made it very clear that if those actions were to continue, further action will definitely be considered by the United States".

"We urge you to suspend current and future licenses for aircraft sales to commercial Iranian airlines until your administration conducts a comprehensive review of their role in supporting Iran's illicit activity", they said in a letter to Trump.

They added that personnel "historically associated with chemical weapons programs" were spotted at the air base in March for preparations and again on the day of the attack.

But new airstrikes on Saturday, believed carried out by the Syrian regime or Russian Federation, targeted Khan Sheikhoun again, raising criticism that the United States action had been ineffective and should have aimed to destroy the facility's runway.

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