Monday, 18 December, 2017

Syria's Assad says Idlib chemical attack 'fabrication': AFP interview

Melinda Barton | 21 April, 2017, 19:12

The vote came after US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov in Moscow to discuss the escalating tensions in Syria.

Tillerson reiterated the US view that President Bashar Assad of Syria, Russia's chief Middle East ally, was responsible for the chemical weapons assault in northern Syria on April 4 that left more than 80 people dead, sickened hundreds and outraged the world.

Both Lavrov and Tillerson made mention of plans to establish a working group with representatives from the State Department and Russia's foreign ministry with the goal of improving relations between the two nations.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the USA sees "no further role" for Bashar al-Assad as Syria's leader.

The agreement was suspended after the United States launched its first attack on Syria during the country's six-year conflict last week.

In addition to an investigation, the resolution would have condemned the claimed use of chemical weapons in the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhun on 4 April.

Stopping just short of accusing Russian Federation of complicity with the sarin gas attack against civilians April 4, Trump said it's "certainly possible" that Russian Federation had advance knowledge of the use of chemical weapons by its ally.

Lavrov said he had a "frank" talk with Tillerson. Trump says it's also "very bad for mankind".

He had spent two hours in Moscow meeting with Lavrov and Russian president Vladimir Putin.

"We see that after Trump entered office, Washington's role in the Astana and Geneva processes was minimized", he said.

Trump said the USA is "not getting along with Russian Federation at all" and relations between the two global powers are at an "all-time low".

The high-level talks in Moscow clearly failed to bridge the widening gap between the USA and Russian Federation on Syria.

Speaking of the missile strikes he authorized against the base that carried out the chemical attack, Trump later added: "I have absolutely no doubt we did the right thing".

China, which has vetoed six resolutions on Syria since the civil war began, abstained from the vote, along with Ethiopia and Kazakhstan.

Tillerson didn't pin the blame for the attack on Russian Federation, which is involved in the Syrian civil war and supports Assad, but insisted that evidence showed it was carried out by the Assad regime. The resolution also calls on the Syrian government to cooperate fully with the worldwide investigators, including by providing them with "flight plans, flight logs, and any other information on air operations, including all flight plans or flight logs filed on April 4 2017".

"There is a low level of trust between our two countries", Mr Tillerson told reporters in Moscow.