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Kremlin says Putin may meet USA's Tillerson on Wednesday
February 22 2018, 04:30 | Irvin Gilbert
USA intelligence indicates that Syrian Su-22 aircraft taking off from Shayrat airfield delivered the nerve agent sarin, according to a White House report given to reporters.
The newly released details of a USA intelligence assessment, which officials said demonstrated Syrian culpability in the April 4 assault that killed at least 70 people, added to rapidly escalating tensions with the Kremlin and signaled a move away from hopes for US rapprochement with Russian Federation.
"It is clear to all of us that the reign of the Assad family is coming to an end". But after a week of diplomatic fallout following US military strikes against the regime of Bashar al-Assad, the summit's main goal now is to avoid a risky escalation of the situation in Syria and in US-Russia bilateral relations.
As various officials have described it, the United States will intervene only when chemical weapons are used - or any time innocents are killed.
In an interview with the New York Post, Trump was asked about infighting among top members of his administration in which Bannon is said to be a center figure. The two are expected to discuss the Syrian chemical attack, the U.S.'s retaliation bombing, and the best way to move forward - a tense talk that will test Tillerson's diplomatic skills. The two governments continue to communicate, he said, and Russian Federation is likely to act in its own self-interest to prevent a unsafe deterioration in relations.
Responding to a question, Mattis said the goal right now in Syria, and the military campaign is focused breaking the ISIS and destroying it in Syria.
Russian officials stepped up its own response to events in Syria on Tuesday, as Putin raised questions about the capabilities of US intelligence agencies and asserted that rebels were planning to plant chemical materials elsewhere in Syria and blame the Assad government.
Re: "U.S. fires missiles at Syria", April 7.
"Russia's allegations fit with a pattern of deflecting blame from the (Syrian) regime and attempting to undermine the credibility of its opponents", one of the officials said.
"I don't see a peaceful, stable Syria in the future that has Assad in charge", White House spokesman Sean Spicer said on Tuesday. They then asserted that the Syrian government conducted airstrikes on the facility, and that is what caused the release of the chemicals.
Mattis said in a statement released Monday that the USA attack had taken out 20 percent of Syria's warplanes.
In Damascus, a Syrian official said foreign minister Walid al-Moallem will visit Russian Federation on Thursday where he will meet officials in Moscow. Washington says it has no doubt about Assad's responsibility. In the most recent case, Russian Federation has refused to accept that Assad's forces dropped the gas bombs on Idlib, alleging instead that rebel forces had stored the chemical weapons in a warehouse struck by regime bombs.
White House officials said USA intelligence agencies do not believe that the Islamic State or other terrorist groups have sarin gas.
Ayrault told reporters he had replied: "It is in the interests of the USA taxpayers to have a Europe that is secure and is strong politically and economically".
But Spicer said "going in and occupying Syria for the express objective of regime change is something the president has been very clear on".
A day after the attack, Russian Federation insisted it was not the work of the Syrian government.
Putin has angrily rejected the accusations against Damascus and slammed the USA bombing as "a violation of worldwide law". He reiterated previous Russian assertions that the chemical weapons attack last week that prompted a US Tomahawk missile barrage on a Syrian air base was either a rebel provocation or caused by Syrian warplanes hitting a rebel chemical weapons facility.
"We do have physiological samples from a number of victims that confirms sarin exposure", the official said. His comments were reported by the state-run Anadolu news agency.
Turkey ended a seven-month operation in northern Syria last month that had been aimed at ridding the region of terrorists.
He insisted the option of sanctions remained on the table and said there would now be an investigation by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.
Moscow wants to understand real intentions of the American administration, Lavrov said at a meeting with Tillerson.
The palpable tension hanging over Tillerson's trip spoke to a widening chasm between the former Cold War foes. That may hardly be punishment for the Kremlin, which dismissed many of Obama's similar warnings about Russian Federation being sucked into a quagmire in Syria with no way out while tarnishing its worldwide reputation.
Russia, along with Tehran, has militarily backed the Syrian regime for years, while using its veto on the U.N. Security Council to shield Assad from global reprisals. It said 16 pro-government fighters, including an army colonel, have been killed.