Putin: US plans to fake chemical weapons in Syria

Putin: US plans to fake chemical weapons in Syria
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Russian President Vladimir Putin will reportedly press the United Nations to officially investigate last week’s chemical attack in Syria, claiming, without evidence, that there are plans to fake the use of chemical weapons.

Reuters reported that Putin claimed Russia also has information that the U.S. is planning to launch new missile strikes in Syria following last week’s strike.

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“We have information that a similar provocation is being prepared … in other parts of Syria including in the southern Damascus suburbs where they are planning to again plant some substance and accuse the Syria authorities of using [chemical weapons],” he said in Moscow, standing alongside the visiting Italian president, Sergio Mattarella.

Putin’s remarks come the same day Secretary of State Rex Tillerson arrives in Russia for his first visit since becoming the United States' top diplomat.

Tillerson earlier Tuesday said Russia must choose between its support of Syrian President Bashar Assad and cooperating with the U.S. to bring peace to a nation ravaged by a yearslong civil war.

“We want to relieve the suffering of the Syrian people,” Tillerson told reporters. "Russia can be a part of that future and play an important role.

“Or Russia can maintain its alliance with this group, which we believe is not going to serve Russia’s interests longer term.”

The U.S. fired missiles into Syria last week after reports that the Syrian government conducted a chemical attack in the country’s Idlib province.

Thursday's strike involved 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles targeting the Shayrat Air Base near the Syrian city of Homs, the alleged site of the gas attack two days before.

Trump ordered the strikes in response to reports the gas attack killed more than 80 civilians, including children.

Russia, a staunch backer of Assad, fiercely condemned the attack as an act of “aggression” from the U.S.