(REUTERS) Russia denied on Wednesday that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was to blame for a poison gas attack and said it would continue to back him, setting the Kremlin on course for its biggest diplomatic collision yet with Donald Trump’s White House.
Western countries, including the United States, blamed Assad’s armed forces for a chemical attack which choked scores of people to death in the town of Khan Sheikhoun in a rebel-held area of northern Syria on Tuesday.
Washington said it believed the deaths were caused by sarin nerve gas dropped by Syrian aircraft. But Moscow offered an alternative explanation that would shield Assad: that the poison gas belonged to rebels and had leaked from an insurgent weapons depot hit by Syrian bombs.
Russia blames rebels for Syria chemical attack