United States says chemical weapons attack in Syria was 'war crime'

Russian Federation has slammed Washington's attack on a Syrian airbase and, as Tillerson met Lavrov, Putin admitted that relations between Washington and Moscow have worsened in the three months that Trump has been in office. Tillerson said in the news conference.

Not long before Trump spoke, Russian Federation vetoed a Western-backed United Nations resolution that would have condemned the chemical weapons attack and demanded a speedy investigation.

"We insist on an objective investigation of what happened on April 4th", he said.

When asked whether Russian Federation had prior knowledge about the Syrian government's alleged use of chemical weapons, Trump said it's "possible", but "unlikely" that Russian Federation had known in advance of Syria's plan to launch a chemical weapons attack on its own citizens. "I would like to think that they didn't know, but certainly they could have", Trump said.

Tillerson said the US has conclusive evidence that the Syrian government planned and executed the chemical attack in the town of Khan Sheikhoun that left at least 89 people dead.

Mr Peskov said in a conference call with reporters that President Putin's meeting with Mr Tillerson reflected the "understanding of the need to maintain a dialogue to search for solutions".

UK ambassador to the United Nations Matthew Rycroft said it was "indefensible" for Russian Federation to support the Syrian regime, as UK scientists in Porton Down confirmed that samples from the scene tested positive for a toxic chemical known as sarin.

It's also suspected that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad ordered the attack.

Putin shot back that the charge was fabricated and accused the Trump administration of fabricating the evidence to create a fake confrontation. But Tillerson repeated the administration's new belief that "the reign of the Assad family is coming to an end".

Tillerson did raise the prospect of criminal proceedings at some point over the attack, including against Assad himself, but warned there were be major legal obstacles to this. Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov opened by accusing the US of using "primitive and loutish" rhetoric and went on to emphasize that Russian Federation finds it hard to parse the specifics of USA policy. "We consider it of utmost importance to prevent the risks of replay of similar action in the future".

Tillerson avoided giving specific details of how Assad would leave power, saying, "We leave that to the process going forward".

But even if there is a definitive finding of Russian complicity, it's not clear the Pentagon or the White House would make that information public, a senior U.S. official said.

  • Zachary Reyes