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Syria's Assad says chemical attack '100 per cent fabrication'

17 April 2017

However, the Syrian nerve gas attack blamed on Russia's ally, Syrian President Bashar Assad, and the retaliatory U.S. missile attack against Syria has sent U.S. -Russia ties to rock bottom.

"And I think it's very bad for Russian Federation. But it doesn't have to be this way".

Safronkov said Russia's Foreign Minister asked U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson during talks earlier Wednesday in Moscow to jointly request the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons "to immediately put together an independent worldwide mission" to visit Khan Sheikhoun and the air base that the U.S. attacked in retaliation. "And actually we strongly believe that there is no contradiction between a strong North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, a credible deterrence and defense and political dialogue with Russian Federation".

Russia, a top Assad backer, says that the Syrian leader is being unfairly accused of executing the attack. Images and videos from the attack showed victims with symptoms consistent with a chemical weapons attack, and Turkish officials have said sarin gas was found in the systems of those killed. He said that the intercept was part of a review of US intelligence following the assault to confirm responsibility for the use of chemical weapons.

Since Trump took office in January, he has been confronted by European allies who have fear his administration will go easy on Russian Federation.

Then, after Mr. Putin did grant him a 75-minute audience, Mr. Tillerson had to sit silently as Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov used a joint press conference to deliver a prolonged lecture about what he considers the many errors of USA foreign policy, from NATO's 1999 bombing of Yugoslavia through the 2003 invasion of Iraq up to the 2011 bombing of Moammar Gadhafi's Libya.

"Right now we're not getting along with Russian Federation at all", Mr Trump said flatly during a White House news conference with Nato Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.

Diplomats said that Russian Federation has put forward a rival draft resolution that expresses concern at last week's gas attack and condemns the United States strike on Syria.

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"Unfortunately, we've got some differences with regards to a majority of those issues", Lavrov lamented. "I think it's very bad for mankind", Trump said.

There were only a handful of issues Tillerson and Lavrov said they broadly agreed on - that the Korean Peninsula should be denuclearized, that Syria should be "unified and stable" after the Islamic State is defeated, and that there should be more communication between US and Russian diplomats and militaries.

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

"We note that the official United States narrative was put forth very quickly, in the absence of an impartial and independent investigation, and in the absence of credible evidence", Murray said.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov agreed there were many problems, but stressed that Moscow was "open to dialogue with the United States in all different areas".

Reactions to Trump's decision to retaliate have varied from supportive to condemning.

But Moscow appeared unready to budge on the primary goal of Tillerson's mission - persuading Russian Federation to help remove Assad from power. But Giraldi said there was no way intelligence could have been reviewed quickly enough to "assess that the Syrian government was responsible".

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. The Russians held to a tentative schedule that was worked out in advance, USA officials said.

Syria's Assad says chemical attack '100 per cent fabrication'