Britain said on Sunday Russia bore responsibility by proxy for civilian deaths in Syria last week caused by a poison gas attack that Washington says was carried out by the Moscow-backed government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. At least 70 people died in what the United States says was a chemical weapons attack in rebel-held Syria.
The attack prompted the United States to fire 59 cruise missiles into a Syrian air base from which it said the attack was launched. Damascus and Moscow denied Syrian forces were behind the gas attack but Western countries dismissed their explanation that chemicals leaked from a rebel weapons depot after an air strike.
Russia has warned that the U.S. missile strikes could have serious consequences for the region. The missile strikes catapulted Washington into confrontation with Russia, which has advisers on the ground aiding its close ally Assad.
British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon criticized Russia's support of Assad, describing the chemical attack as a war crime that happened on their watch.
By proxy Russia is responsible for every civilian death last week, Fallon, whose government voiced support for U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to target the Syrian air base, wrote in the Sunday Times newspaper.
”If Russia wants to be absolved of responsibility for future attacks, (President) Vladimir Putin needs to enforce commitments, dismantle Assad’s chemical weapons arsenal for good and get fully engaged with the U.N. peace process on Syria.
On Sunday, Russia's Foreign Ministry criticized a decision by British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson to cancel a visit to Moscow later this month, saying it showed a lack of understanding of events in Syria. The ministry said it also showed once more that there was little to gain from talking to Britain, which it said had no real influence over world affairs.
Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said that Developments in Syria have changed the situation fundamentally. My priority is now to continue contact with the US and others in the run up to the G7 meeting on 10-11 April - to build coordinated international support for a ceasefire on the ground and an intensified political process. I will be working to arrange for other like-minded partners to meet and explore next steps soon too.
I discussed these plans in detail with Secretary Tillerson. He will visit Moscow as planned and, following the G7 meeting, will be able to deliver that clear and coordinated message to the Russians.
We deplore Russia’s continued defense of the Asad regime even after the chemical weapons attack on innocent civilians. We call on Russia to do everything possible to bring about a political settlement in Syria and work with the rest of the international community to ensure that the shocking events of the last week are never repeated”.