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Sunday 19 November 2017

Russia co-operated with Syrians in chemical weapons attack, claims McCain

John McCain said the US should destroy Syria's air force as part of stopping President Bashar Assad from repeating such attacks (AP)
John McCain said the US should destroy Syria's air force as part of stopping President Bashar Assad from repeating such attacks (AP)
Rex Tillerson lays a wreath at a memorial in Sant'Anna di Stazzema (Riccardo Dalle Luche/ANSA via AP)

US senator John McCain has accused Russia of having co-operated with Syrian government forces in a chemical weapons attack that has killed more than 80 people, including more than a dozen children.

He said at a press conference that he believes "the Russians knew about chemical weapons because they were operating exactly from the same base".

The Republican senator said the US launched cruise missile strikes last week against the Syrian base "in a response of a chemical attack".

"I hope that this behaviour by Syria, in what clearly is co-operation with Russia and Syria together, will never happen again," he said.

Mr McCain said the US should destroy Syria's air force as part of stopping President Bashar Assad from repeating such attacks.

"I would prevent Bashar Assad from flying from his airfields if he doesn't renounce the use of these weapons," the former US airman said. "The United States should first tell Russia that this kind of a war crime is unacceptable in the world today."

He said the upcoming visit by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to Moscow should "lead to an agreement on the part of the Russians that they will not allow Syria to ever again use chemical weapons".

"Remember, Russians made that commitment after they (Syrian government forces) crossed the so-called red line back in 2014. I hope that this will be the first item on the agenda."

The Kremlin has repeatedly said the civilian exposure to toxic agents resulted from Syrian warplanes hitting a rebel ammunition warehouse on the eastern outskirts of the village of Khan Sheikhoun.

AP

Press Association

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