Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had a blunt assessment of how Russia “failed” in its responsibility to hold the Syrian government accountable.
Tillerson and National Security Adviser Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster briefed reporters Thursday following a U.S. missile strike on a Syrian airfield which was in response to the country’s chemical attack earlier this week that killed dozens of its own civilians, including women and children.
— The Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) April 7, 2017
“We have a very high level of confidence that the attacks were carried out under aircraft under the direction of Bashar al-Assad’s regime,” Tillerson said in West Palm Beach, Florida, The Daily Caller reported. “We have very high confidence that the attacks involved the use of sarin nerve gas.”
The secretary then slammed Russia for not doing its part in overseeing the 2013 agreement with Assad to remove chemical weapons from Syria.
Tillerson says Russia either complicit or incompetent in Syria chemical weapons deal https://t.co/uyeZVpiVWS
— Fox News (@FoxNews) April 7, 2017
But, Tillerson didn’t stop there:
Tillerson also slammed Russia for failing in its responsibility to locate, secure and destroy Syria’s chemical weapons.
— Mark Knoller (@markknoller) April 7, 2017
“No contacts were made with Moscow, with President Putin,” Tillerson said. “Clearly Russia has failed in its responsibility. Either Russia has been complicit or either Russia has been simply incompetent in its ability to deliver on its end of that agreement.”
Russia was part of the agreement struck by the Obama administration in 2013 to avoid military confrontation with Syria and directing Assad to dispose of chemical weapons in his country.
Tillerson said the U.S. “sought no approval from Moscow or any other level within Russian infrastructure” for the strike as he appeared to be sending a strong message to Russia which has continued to support the Assad government.
“It’s important to recognize that as Assad has continued to use chemical weapons in these attacks with no response, with no response from the international community, he — in effect — is normalizing the use of chemical weapons, which may then be adopted by others,” Tillerson said. “Therefore, it’s important that some action be taken on behalf of the international community to make clear that these chemical weapons continue to be a violation of international norms.”
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