Russian Federation knew Syrian chemical attack was coming

USA intelligence has spotted earth-moving equipment at Shayrat air base, presumably being used to begin repairs at the site that was hit last week by a US cruise missile strike, CBS News national security correspondent David Martin reports.

The chemical attack deaths have been widely blamed on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime, but Russia, Assad's most powerful ally, denied the regime carried out the attack.

Mattis said the military action demonstrates the United States would not passively stand by while Syrian President Bashar al-Assad "blithely ignores global law and employs chemical weapons he had declared destroyed".

Syria and North Korea are two main subjects of talks between Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Moscow Wednesday, as the diplomats try to fix a relationship that President Vladimir Putin says has only gotten worse in recent months.

The Pentagon is looking for any evidence the Russian government knew about or was complicit in the chemical attack.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson shakes hands with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov at the start of their meeting in Moscow.

Tillerson said the United States was confident that Assad's forces were behind the gas attack, but said there was "no firm information" to indicate Russian forces were involved in the same attack.

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Speaking at a ceremony to commemorate the victims of a Nazi massacre in the village of Sant'Anna di Stazzema in northern Italy on Monday ahead of a G7 meeting in Lucca, Mr Tillerson pledged to "rededicate ourselves to holding to account any and all who commit crimes against the innocents anywhere in the world". He said Moscow has lots of questions about the "very ambiguous" and "contradictory" ideas emanating from Washington.

Russian Federation had welcomed the election of Trump, who campaigned on pledges to improve relations.

Diplomats gathered in Italy as USA officials in Washington floated the possibility of new sanctions on the Syrian and Russian military, plus the threat of additional US military action if Assad's government continues attacking civilians. Tillerson said it was clear the US saw no role for Assad in Syria's future, given that he had lost legitimacy. OPAC is the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

In a statement issued Monday, U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis said the assessment of the Department of Defense is that 20 percent of Syria's operational aircraft, fuel and ammunition sites, and air defense capabilities were damaged or destroyed in the airstrike.

As Reuters adds, European ministers are eager to hear whether Washington is now committed to overthrowing Assad, who is backed by Russian Federation.

He said Russian Federation was set to appeal to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and "call on the worldwide community to thoroughly investigate such incidents".

Lavrov, echoing Putin, warned Tillerson that the US air strike was wrong and should not be repeated.

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