US steps up pressure on Syria ahead of Russia talks

The United States stepped up pressure Sunday on Russia to rein in the Syrian regime, warning that any further chemical attacks would be “very damaging” to their relationship and suggesting there can be no peace while President Bashar al-Assad remains in power. President Donald Trump’s top advisers took to Sunday television talk shows to set the stage for a diplomatic confrontation in Moscow when US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson arrives Tuesday for talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. It will be their first face-to-face encounter since US cruise missiles slammed into a Syrian air base early Friday Damascus time in retaliation for a suspected sarin gas attack on April 4 that killed at least 87 civilians in the rebel-held Syrian town of Khan Sheikhun.

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