Rex Tillerson issues an ultimatum to Russia ahead of talks

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson landed in Moscow on Tuesday with a message for Russia: Side with the US and like-minded countries on Syria, or join Iran, Hezbollah and Bashar Assad.

It was less clear what the consequences would be for a government that helped Assad and his allies succeed in their six-year war with Syrian opposition groups.

Russian President Vladimir Putin immediately refused to back down, saying Russia knew about organised “provocations” to blame Syria’s government for using chemical weapons, and urged the UN to investigate the attack.

Putin told reporters: “It reminds me of the events in 2003 when US envoys to the Security Council were demonstrating what they said were chemical weapons found in Iraq. We have seen it all already.”

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