US Looks at Russia's Role in Syria's Nerve-Gas Attack

USA ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said on Friday the Trump administration was ready to take further steps if needed. The comments were made by the USA ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, following a cruise missile attack on Friday (7 April) morning on a Syrian air base suspected of using chemical weapons against civilians.

U.S. officials say they suspect Russian Federation may have played a role in the use of chemical weapons that killed at least 80 people in northwestern Syria earlier this week.

A key test of whether the relationship can be salvaged comes next week when Secretary of State Rex Tillerson becomes the first Trump Cabinet member to visit Russian Federation.

U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer USS Porter conducts strike operations against Syria on April 7, 2017.

China, alongside Russian Federation, used its veto power on the United Nations Security Council multiple times to kill resolutions calling for sanctions against Syria for its illegal chemical weapons activities.

In an interview to air Sunday on CBS' "Face the Nation", Tillerson said Russians were not targeted by the strikes.

Such pressure could lead to changes "that will lead to real political transition in Syria that will shift Syria from a totalitarian, corrupted state into a secular democracy where rule of law, equality and justice prevail, where men and women work and live equally and where all the communities of the Syrian nation enjoy 100 percent equal status", Sawah said.

British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson also had planned to visit Russian Federation this coming week, but decided Saturday to cancel the trip because of the fast moving events in Syria.

At the United Nations, Russia's deputy ambassador, Vladimir Safronkov, strongly criticized what he called the USA "flagrant violation of global law and an act of aggression" whose "consequences for regional and worldwide security could be extremely serious".

"We are asking for an impartial worldwide fact-finding body to be set find out where these chemical weapons came from", Rouhani said during a speech on Saturday.

At the UN Security Council, US Ambassador Nikki Haley mocked Moscow for failing to rid Syria of chemical weapons under a 2013 deal.

By ordering US airstrikes in Syria, President Trump showed the world the difference between leading from behind and leading from the front, Sean Hannity said tonight.

Saudi Arabia, one of the most vehement opponents of Assad, said the missile barrage was the right response to "the crimes of this regime to its people in light of the failure of the global community to stop it".

Syrian authorities condemned the USA missile strike, terming it a "flawed us strategy" that "makes the USA a partner of Islamic State and [the al-Nusra Front] and other terrorist organizations". Just last week, the Trump administration signaled the US was no longer interested in trying to push Assad from power over his direction of a conflict that has killed hundreds of thousands of people and led to the worst refugee crisis since World War II. He said the most ideal process would be a political solution that leads to a transitional government.

In Florida with the president, meanwhile, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said: "We will be announcing additional sanctions on Syria as part of our ongoing effort to stop this type of activity and emphasize how significant we view this".

In Palm Beach, Florida, President Donald Trump's spokesman defended the USA strike and said it sent a "very, very clear message" to Assad.

Senior U.S. military officials raised the possibility Friday that Russian Federation might have had a role in the chemical attacks in Syria that killed scores of civilians, and prompted the massive U.S. cruise missile strike against Shayrat Air Base.

The decision undercut another campaign promise for Trump: his pledge to try to warm relations with Moscow.

Before the strikes, USA military officials said they informed their Russian counterparts of the impending attack. Trump also had called for Obama to get congressional approval before any attack on Syria. The drone returned late in the day as citizens were going to a nearby hospital for treatment.

Five hours after the initial attack, the UAV turned off its camera, and shortly afterwards, a Russian-made aircraft targeted the hospital.

The first question now is what this means for the US policy toward Syria.

Spokesman Sean Spicer said the missile attack sent a clear message to Assad, but he avoided explicitly calling for the Syrian to leave office.

  • Leroy Wright