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Syria war: Trump and Putin trade barbs as ministers meet

The US and Russian presidents have revealed the wide gulf between them over Syria, even as their foreign ministers were meeting in Moscow.

Donald Trump said Russia was backing “an animal” in Syria’s Bashar al-Assad.

Vladimir Putin said the US had violated the law in bombing a Syrian airbase and that the level of trust with the US had worsened since Mr Trump took office.

However, Mr Putin did choose to meet Rex Tillerson after the US envoy had held talks with Sergei Lavrov.

The meeting between the president and the US secretary of state had been in doubt, but a spokeswoman for the US embassy in Moscow, citing Kremlin officials, confirmed it was taking place.

Tension in ties has risen since a suspected chemical attack on the rebel-held Syrian town of Khan Sheikhoun last week that left 89 people dead.

The US and its allies blamed the Syrian government, and the US fired 59 cruise missiles at the Shayrat airbase in response.

Syria denied carrying out the chemical attack and has the support of its main ally, Russia.

Read more:

  • Trump’s unclear foreign policy may prove catastrophic
  • Chemical used in Syria was sarin, says Turkey
  • Rex Tillerson – the wild card diplomat

Speaking on the Fox Business Network, Mr Trump expressed his outrage at the chemical attack.

“You see these beautiful kids that are dead in their father’s arms, or you see kids gasping for life and you know… it’s over for them.”

He said he asked his defence minister for options and then “we hit them very hard”.

Image copyright EPA Image caption Mr Lavrov (R) said he had questions for Mr Tillerson over

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