04/11/2017, 09.33
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From G7 threatens new sanctions on Russia over support for Damascus

The US Secretary of State will go to Moscow on an official visit. He will try to convince the Russians to drop Assad. Proposal of "targeted" sanctions against senior Russian and Syrian officials. G7 internal resistances (Rome and Berlin) make their introduction unlikely. Putin cancels meeting with Tillerson.

Damascus (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The foreign ministers of the G7 countries are trying to reach a common position on the Syrian conflict, before the Secretary of State goes to Russia on official visit. The aim of Rex Tillerson’s diplomatic journey - which will also see Arab allies in the Middle East - to try to persuade Moscow to abandon and leave Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to his fate.

The United Kingdom representative has proposed "targeted sanctions" against senior military officers of Russia and Syria. The goal is to hit those who coordinated military operations in recent days in Syrian territory.

If adopted, they would be the first sanctions against Russian personalities in the context of the Syrian conflict. However, their adoption seems unlikely given the internal resistance of G7 nations like Germany and Italy.

Meanwhile, in the context of the growing tensions between the US and Russia, the Kremlin has canceled the meeting between Tillerson and President Vladimir Putin, originally planned in the coming days. He will still meet with the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

The West’s clamp down follows last week’s attack in Idlib province, where the Syrian government - according to submissions by rebels and militia jihadists - used chemical weapons. Damascus denies using chemical agents (sarin gas is suspected) on the town of Khan Sheikhoun, which would have caused at least 89 deaths.

According to the statement by a US official, the Russians knew about the chemical attack, because a drone flew over the area surrounding the Khan Sheikhoun hospital while the victims asked for help. A few hours later a fighter bombed the hospital in an attempt - according to Washington - to "cover" up the attack.

In a telephone conversation US President Donald Trump and the British Prime Minister Theresa May agreed that it is no longer in " Moscow’s strategic interest " support the Syrian president. German Chancellor Angela Merkel agreed with the tenant of the White House about "specific responsibilities" attributable to Assad.

Many analysts were surprised by Trump’s actions given that before becoming president he had called for an alliance with Russia and in the past had criticized Barack Obama's negative positions, toward Bashar Assad.

In spite of the threats, there has been no real change in [military] policy of the United States in Syria; despite having bombed a Syrian military base in response to chemical attack, the "priority" for Washington remains the fight against the Islamic State (IS).

Since the outbreak of war in 2011, more than 400 thousand people have been killed and millions of people displaced, triggering an unprecedented humanitarian crisis.

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