UK defence minister: Russia responsible by proxy for Syria chemical deaths

Johnson said: "Developments in Syria have changed the situation fundamentally".

Syria has given a murky account of what happened, but denies deliberately carrying out a chemical attack and blames "terrorist groups" for the deaths. By proxy Russian Federation is responsible for every civilian death last week.

"In the past few years, they have had every opportunity to pull levers and stop this civil war".

He said Russian Federation in 2013 gave "certain assurances" under an agreement with the USA and in accordance with U.N. Security Council resolutions that it would be "the guarantor of the destruction of Syria's chemical weapons, stockpiles". He acknowledged achieving that was "not easy, but not impossible".

Tillerson echoed the president's comments, telling Stephanopoulos, "I think the president was very clear in his message to the American people, that this strike was related exclusively to the most recent, horrific use of chemical weapons against women, children, and as the president said, even small babies".

"We are prepared to do more", he said.

Sir Michael said Mr Assad must depart and the search for stability begin.

McMaster told Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace the "president acted decisively" and that while the strike wasn't meant to take out all of Syria's capabilities, "it was a strong signal that the US will not stand idly by".

The secretary of state is set to travel to Moscow later this week.

Responding to Johnson's announcement, Russian Foreign Ministry representative Maria Zakharova described his reasons as "absurd", according to Russian news agency Interfax.

The strike was in response to the alleged chemical attack in Idlib Province, where dozens of civilians reportedly died from suspected gas poisoning.

The figures come from Idlib's opposition-run health authority.

Earlier on Saturday, British foreign secretary Boris Johnson pulled out of a planned visit to Moscow in the wake of the reported chemical weapons attack by Syrian government forces, saying: "We deplore Russia's continued defence of the Assad regime".

The move immediately prompted a backlash from Russian President Vladimir Putin, who said it would damage US-Russian relations. "Tonight I call on all civilized nations to join us in seeking to end the slaughter and bloodshed in Syria and also to end terrorism of all kinds and all types".

Following the suspected attack, US President Donald Trump launched air strikes against a Syrian government air base, and branded Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad a "dictator" who had "launched a frightful chemical weapons attack on innocent civilians".

  • Salvatore Jensen