Middle East Allies Join G7 in Bid To Isolate Putin and Assad

As the dust settles on the USA missile strike on Syria, only one thing is certain - Tuesday's meeting between the envoys of Presidents Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin won't be the encounter they had planned.

The way forward in Syria can't include Assad, whose recent chemical attack against his own people were abetted by those countries - Russian Federation and Iran - that have allowed him to remain in power, Trudeau told a news conference. Further air strikes are not expected unless there is further use of chemical weapons.

The Russian military said it would help Syria beef up its air defences after the United States strike on the Syrian air base.

While standing at the site of a World War II Nazi massacre in Italy, Tillerson told reporters that the USA would not let similar atrocities be repeated.

Tillerson is in Moscow to meet with Russian officials about the civil war in Syria.

Ending the G7 ministers meeting in the Italian town of Lucca, he said: "We must have a dialogue with Russia", the Associated Press reported.

Some 89 people were killed in the attack and hundreds more suffered symptoms consistent with a toxic nerve agent, possibly sarin gas.

The Associated Press news agency quoted a senior United States official as saying that the Russians knew of the chemical attack because a drone had been flying over a hospital in Khan Sheikhoun as victims sought help. But he said the distinction "doesn't much matter to the dead".

"But only Russian Federation can answer that question".

Mr Trump came to power as a fan of Mr Putin. This time around, he's secretary of state trying to work through a lot of disputes.

Now, Tillerson, a former oil executive with no diplomatic experience, is charged with avoiding a major USA confrontation with Russia while exacting some concessions from Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The attack led the Trump administration to harden its attitude against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad weeks after top USA officials said they were more concerned with defeating Islamic State militants than getting Assad out of power.

One of the White House officials said Assad used the attack as part of an "operational calculus" to slow rebel advances. "But the question of how that ends and the transition itself could be very important in our view to the durability, the stability inside of a unified Syria". The retaliatory strikes, which Obama declined to approve after blaming Assad for an even deadlier chemical weapons attack in 2013, hit an air base where Russian troops were also present, although none are believed to have been killed. As the Federal Bureau of Investigation and multiple congressional committees investigate potential collusion between Russian Federation and Trump's campaign, the president can point to his hard-line stance on Assad as fresh evidence he's willing to stand up to Putin.

Putin said that the Western accusations against Assad reminded him of claims, ahead of the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, that Saddam Hussein had stockpiled chemical weapons.

  • Salvatore Jensen