Russian Federation accuses USA of unlawful Syria raid as Tillerson visits

Russia's alleged meddling in the US presidential election also hovered over the first face-to-face encounter between Putin and a Trump administration Cabinet member. But any such expectations have crashed into reality amid the nasty back-and-forth over Syria and ongoing US investigations into Russia's alleged interference in America's USA presidential election.

"Frankly, Putin is backing a person that's truly an evil person", Trump aid in the Fox Business Network interview, referring to Assad. But he clearly wasn't counting on it.

"It can be said that the level of trust at the working level, especially at the military level, has not become better, but most likely has degraded", Putin said.

And Putin, who US intelligence agencies say tried to help Trump get elected, insisted that relations with the USA had only gone downhill since Trump took office in January. Until the chemical attack, the Trump administration had sought to step back from the USA position that Assad should leave power.

Defense Secretary James Mattis has said that Syrian President Bashar Assad's government is responsible for the April 4 chemical weapons attack on its citizens and called the US -led missile strike on April 6 against the Middle Eastern country's Shayrat air base a "measured military response", DoD News reported Tuesday.

Russian Federation says rebels were responsible for whatever chemical agent was found, which the Trump administration calls a disinformation campaign.

The palpable tension hanging over Tillerson's trip spoke to a widening chasm between the former Cold War foes.

"It's clear that the Russians are trying to cover up what happened there", one White House official said.

Syrian government forces battling insurgents in Daraa have dropped several barrel bombs on the southern city, opposition activists said Tuesday, a day after the White House suggested that the use of the crude explosive devices could provoke a USA response.

Until the chemical attack, the Trump administration had sought to step back from the USA position that Assad should leave power. "It's very hard to understand how a political solution could result from the continuation of the Assad regime", Mr. McMaster said on Fox News Sunday.

Russian President Vladimir Putin says Syria doesn't have chemical weapons and condemned the USA strike as "an act of aggression".

Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov blasted U.S. claims that it has "irrefutable evidence" of election interference. "So I felt we had to do something about it".

"We determined that a measured military response could deter the regime from doing this again", he remarked, adding, "The strike that we are talking about here today was directed at the people who planned it, who held onto the weapons contrary to what they had promised the United Nations when they said they had gotten rid of all those weapons, and the reason for the strike was that alone".

"We didn't use chemical weapons in World War II", Spicer said.

He also rejected American claims of incontrovertible evidence that Assad ordered the chemical attack.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says he did not discuss changes in sanctions against Russian Federation during his meeting with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

Konstantin Kosachev, the head of the foreign affairs committee in the upper house of the Russian parliament said Moscow would only agree to restore the link on condition that the "U.S. abandons any action against the Syrian army".

Washington wants Russian Federation to stop supporting Assad, who has been fighting a six-year-long civil war against mostly Sunni Muslim rebels, also with the backing of Shi'ite Muslim Iran.

Asked about accusations that Syria's government launched a chemical weapons attack in Idlib province, Putin said that Damascus had given up its chemical weapons stocks.

The stark language is the most blunt terms Trump has used to describe the Syrian president who is accused of war crimes in an attempt to hold onto power during a prolonged civil war.

"Assad's role in the future is uncertain and, with the acts that he has taken, it would seem that there would be no role for him to govern the Syrian people", he told a press briefing on April 6.

But he also appeared to rule out deeper involvement, saying: "Are we going to get involved with Syria? No".

Ja'afari, the Syrian representative, repeated many arguments in his country's defense that he has stated over the six years of civil war.

The meeting, announced by Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, comes hours after Tillerson faced his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov in a tense encounter. "We believe it is of principal importance to prevent risks of a repeat of such steps in the future".

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

The President said Mr Putin's support for Syrian President Bashar al Assad was "very bad for Russia" and "very bad for mankind", adding that without it "you wouldn't have a problem right now".

In a sign that the Kremlin is not set to drop its firm support for Assad, Syria's foreign minister is set to jet in to Moscow for talks with Lavrov on Thursday before a three-way meeting involving Iran's top diplomat on Friday.

He says of the recent chemical attack: "We can not let this happen again".

  • Larry Hoffman