The United States has determined Russia knew about the chemical weapons attack in Syria prior to its happening. As reported by Fox News, a senior US official says a drone, operated by Russia, was spotted over a hospital in Syria as victims were being rushed into the facility for treatment and that the drone’s presence couldn’t have been a coincidence.
After the drone had left, a jet bombed the hospital. US officials believe the bombing was an attempt to cover up the use of chemical weapons against Syrian civilians in the Idlib province of Syria.
The senior US official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, stated in regards to the bombing of the hospital, “We don’t have positive accountability yet, but the fact that somebody would strike the hospital potentially to hide the evidence of a chemical attack, about five hours after, is a question we’re very interested in.”
The chemical attack in Syria resulted in the death of more than 80 Syrian civilians including dozens of children. The US believes Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces carried out the attack that targeted a rebel-held city.
Both the Russian and Syrian governments have denied using the chemical weapons, believed to have been sarin gas, a nerve agent, claiming the release of the gas was due to a Syrian airstrike on a warehouse where rebel forces were storing the “toxic substances” and, subsequently, accidental.
Shortly after the gas attack last week, the US concluded the chemicals were dropped by Syrian warplanes. As reported by the Business Insider, the Pentagon was investigating whether Russia was complicit in the attack, including whether the drone that was seen above the hospital was under Russian control. It was further determined that the warplane that bombed the hospital was Russian-made. However, it is unknown whether Russian or Syrian forces were piloting the jet during the attack.
The US responded to the chemical attack on Thursday, launching 59 Tomahawk air missiles at the airfield from which the warplanes were deployed, under orders by US President Donald Trump. At this time, it is unclear how news of Russia’s prior knowledge of the event will be addressed by the US government. However, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis stated that the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government in the future would be “ill-advised.”
Russia was involved in the creation of a deal in 2013 that required Assad to destroy any chemical weapons stockpiles remaining in the country. Both Syria and Russia claim that all of the associated stockpiles were destroyed in accordance with the agreement.