Following a U.S. cruise-missile strike on a Syrian air force base, Secretary of State Tillerson told reporters at a briefing in Palm Beach, that “clearly Russia has failed in its responsibility” to secure Syria’s stockpile of chemical weapons, according to an agreement struck with the Obama administration a few years back. This failure has forced the U.S. to act against Syria, Tillerson said.
When the agreement was brokered in 2013 after al-Assad’s regime conducted a chemical weapons attack, the U.S. held back on launching punitive strikes.
Referring to the Syrian strongman ,the Secretary of State added: “He in effect is normalizing the use of chemical weapons, which then might be adopted by others.”
Tillerson said that while the U.S. did not request consent from Moscow before launching the strike, they nevertheless, adhered to agreements to inform the Russians to prevent casualties among their personnel.
He explained: “Our target in this attack was not Russia. Our target was this airfield and the Syrian regime.”
In a few days, the Secretary of State will be the first Trump administration official to visit Russia, which is a close ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Until Thursday’s missile strike, the U.S. military has not taken action against Syrian government forces, mainly to avoid an armed confrontation with Russia.
U.S. President Donald Trump’s intentions to seek closer ties with Moscow are hampered by increasing differences of opinion regarding Syria. Currently, President Trump and those with close links to him are involved in burgeoning investigations concerning a so-called conspiracy involving Russia, to help Trump win the presidency.