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Showdown in Russia: US-Russia Tensions Rise Over Syria

Heather Sells : Apr 12, 2017  CBN News

Defense Secretary James Mattis is promising that despite growing tensions between the U.S. and Russia, the relationship will not "spiral out of control."

(Russia) — [CBN News] Tensions between the U.S. and Russia over Syria are rising, casting doubt that the secretary of state's visit to Moscow Wednesday will advance U.S. interests.  (Photo Credit: Rex Tillerson via Flickr)

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is the first Trump cabinet official to visit Russia. It's still unclear, however, whether Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet with Tillerson — and there's little hope of the two countries agreeing on Syria.

Already Wednesday, Sergey Lavrov, Russia's top diplomat, has accused the U.S. of conducting an unlawful attack against Syrian President Bashar Assad's forces.  

The White House says it's confident that Assad ordered a chemical attack on his people this month and it says the Russians are trying to cover up the involvement of Assad, Moscow's closest ally in the region.

President Donald Trump is demanding that Russia withdraw its support for the Assad regime.

"Frankly, Putin is backing a person that's truly an evil person and I think it's very bad for Russia. I think it's very bad for mankind," Trump told Fox News.

But Putin continues to deny that Assad's government directed the attack.

Under President Barack Obama, a 2013 agreement between the U.S. and Russia was supposed to eliminate Syria's chemical weapons program, but that clearly didn't work. Even earlier this year, Russia disputed the findings of international investigators looking into eight incidents in Syria involving chemical weapons. (Photo Credit: President of Russia via Wikipedia)

The U.S., meanwhile, is pressuring both Russia and Assad, asserting that the Syrian leader's days are numbered.

"It's clear to all of us that the reign of the Assad family is coming to an end," said Tillerson, speaking to the media in Italy on Tuesday.

Spicer's Adolf Hitler Gaffe

Amidst all this, the White House is recovering from a brief firestorm late Tuesday. It started as an attempt by White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer to point the finger at Assad — by comparing him to Adolf Hitler.

"You had a — you know someone as despicable as Hitler who didn't even sink to using chemical weapons," said Spicer at a press conference.

Hitler, of course, used gas chambers to kill millions of Jews. Spicer later apologized for his remarks.

Meanwhile, it's unclear just how the U.S. will continue to be involved in Syria. U.N Ambassador Nikki Haley has said the U.S. is prepared to "do more" — but at the same time, the president is making it clear that the U.S. is "not going into Syria."

Defense Secretary James Mattis is promising that despite growing tensions between the U.S. and Russia, the relationship will not "spiral out of control."

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