Russia knew Syrian chemical attack was coming

US says strike hits 20 percent of Syria's operational aircraft

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says the United States is rededicating itself to hold to account "any and all" who commit crimes against innocent people.

G7 foreign ministers will send a "clear and coordinated message" to Russian Federation today over its stance on Syria as Washington ratcheted up the pressure following a suspected chemical attack in the war-torn country.

With the group of wealthy nations working to see if it can strike a common front on Syria, Tillerson accompanied Italian Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano to Santa'Anna di Stazzema, where 560 civilians, including some 130 children, were killed in 1944.

U.S. Sen. John McCain accused Russian Federation on Monday of having cooperated with Syrian government forces in a chemical weapons attack that has killed more than 80 people, including more than a dozen children.

The U.S. strike - ordered less than three days after the gas attack - could make it clear to Russian Federation that the United States will hold Moscow accountable for Assad, Blinken said.

A senior USA official said on Monday that US has concluded that Russian Federation knew in advance of regime's chemical weapons attack last week.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, whose government is another backer of Assad's, also called for an independent inquiry under United Nations auspices when he spoke Monday to Alfano, Italy's foreign ministry said in a statement.

Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke on the phone with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani Sunday, where both leaders agreed on the "inadmissibility" of USA action against a sovereign state.

Even before Trump ordered the strike in retaliation for a nerve gas attack, Tillerson's visit was certain to be dominated by thorny issues.




A day before the Khan Shekhoun attack, Haley indicated the U.S. had ditched the Obama administration's policy of removing Assad. "That will part of the discussions when I visit Moscow next week is to call upon Foreign Minister Lavrov and the Russian government to fulfill the obligation it made to the worldwide community when it agreed to be the guarantor of the elimination of the chemical weapons", he told ABC.

"Regime change is something that we think is going to happen because all of the parties are going to see that Assad is not the leader that needs to be taking place for Syria".

The uncertain view of USA objectives prevailed as Tillerson planned to attend a meeting Tuesday of the "likemindeds" - countries that share a similar approach to resolving Syria's protracted civil war.

Peskov, Putin's spokesman, said on Monday that the US strikes had shown Washington's total unwillingness to cooperate on Syria.

Haley said Tillerson would put pressure on Moscow over its support for Assad.

The G-7 meeting comes as the United States is sending a Navy carrier strike group toward the Korean Peninsula in a show of strength following North Korea's persistent ballistic missile tests.

Russia's foreign ministry earlier condemned Johnson's decision not to come to Moscow, saying it showed that Britain had "no real influence on the course of global affairs".

Tillerson said Washington's priority remained the defeat of the so-called "Islamic State" (IS) terrorist group. "To prevent military violence to escalate on and on, it's all about this".

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