Russia denied on Wednesday that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was to blame for a poison gas attack and said it would continue to back him, setting the Kremlin on course for its biggest diplomatic collision yet with Donald Trump’s White House. Western countries, including the United States, blamed Assad’s armed forces for the worst chemical attack in Syria for more than four years, which choked scores of people to death in the town of Khan Sheikhoun in a rebel-held area on Tuesday. Washington said it believed the deaths were caused by sarin nerve gas dropped by Syrian aircraft. But Moscow offered an alternative explanation that would shield Assad: that the poison gas belonged to rebels and had leaked from an insurgent weapons depot hit by Syrian bombs.
The White House on Tuesday blamed a deadly chemical weapons attack in Syria’s Idlib province on the government of President Bashar al-Assad and said the incident was “reprehensible and cannot be ignored by the civilized world”. “These heinous actions by the Bashar al-Assad regime are a consequence of the last administration’s weakness and irresolution,” White House spokesman Sean Spicer told a briefing. “President Obama said in 2012 that he would establish a ‘red line’ against the use of chemical weapons and then did nothing” picer declined to say what the U.S. administration would do about the attack but added President Donald Trump had spoken on Tuesday with his national security team about the issue.