US secretary of state Rex Tillerson today said that Russia bore responsibility for chemical attacks by Syrian president Bashar Assad on civilians in the war-ravaged country. Tillerson's comments came after an emergency meeting with key allies on the crisis in Syria at the end of a two-day summit of foreign ministers of G7 nations and hours ahead of his arrival in Moscow. They were joined today by representatives of several Arab countries who were opposed to Assad's regime.
''Stockpiles and continued use demonstrated that Russia has failed in its responsibility to deliver on its 2013 commitment'' to remove chemical weapons from Syria under a UN-brokered deal, Tillerson said.
''It is unclear whether Russia failed to take this obligation seriously or Russia has been simply incompetent in its ability to deliver on its end of that agreement,'' he said. ''This distinction doesn't much matter to the dead.''
In an earlier statement Tillerson had accused Russia of either being incompetent or complicit in Syria's illegal use of chemical weapons, used in an attack last week that killed scores of people, including many children.
According to Tillerson, the retaliatory US missile strike that had followed ''was necessary as a matter of US national security'' and to prevent banned weapons from reaching the militant Islamic State organisation that was operating in Syria.
Syria had denied that it carried out a chemical attack on the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun last week that left 89 people dead.
Responding to the chemical attack, the US fired 59 cruise missiles at a Syrian airbase that it said was implicated in the attack.
Tillerson said the missile strike "was necessary as a matter of US national security interest".
"We do not want the regime's uncontrolled stockpile of chemical weapons to fall into the hands of Isis [so-called Islamic State] or other terrorist groups who could and want to attack the United States or our allies."