Russia: Obama policy responsible for Syria chemical attacks

Russia: Obama policy responsible for Syria chemical attacks
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Russian officials on Wednesday moved to pin the blame for Syrian chemical attacks on the policies of former President Obama.

Moscow has been a staunch defender of Syrian President Bashar Assad, who is believed to be responsible for Tuesday's chemical weapons strike in the country's ongoing civil war. And Vladimir Safronkov, Russia's deputy deputy permanent representative to the United Nations, maintained that the Obama administration's "red lines" may have encouraged terrorists to take advantage of the situation in Syria.

"The former U.S. administration’s so-called red lines, which should have triggered a military interference in the internal Syrian conflict if crossed, marked a watershed in the history of toxic chemicals in Syria and followed by full-blown poisonous substances," Safronkov said during a session of the United Nations Security Council, as reported by Taas news agency.

"That decision served as a starting point for future provocations by terrorists and extremist structures with the use of chemical weapons. They sought to discredit the official Damascus regime and to create a pretext for the use of military force against a sovereign state," he continued.

"It was this inaction that encouraged the insurgents that felt their impunity."

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Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Tuesday urged Russia and Iran to "exercise their influence" over Assad to prevent chemical attacks in the future.

"We call upon Russia and Iran, yet again, to exercise their influence over the Syrian regime and to guarantee that this sort of horrific attack never happens again," Tillerson said.

"As the self-proclaimed guarantors to the ceasefire negotiated in Astana, Russia and Iran also bear great moral responsibility for these deaths," he added.

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley on Wednesday doubled down on Tillerson's remarks, accusing Moscow of not caring about the loss of innocent lives as a result of the attacks.

"We need to see them put an end to these horrific acts. How many more children have to die before Russia cares?" She asked during the session.

President Trump has also faulted Obama for his "red line" comments, saying he inherited "a mess" with the Syrian civil war.

Max Greenwood contributed.