- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Russia’s defense ministry is offering an alternate explanation Wednesday for the deadly gas attack that killed dozens in Syria — the regime struck a large “terrorist” depot that produced chemical warfare munitions.

On its Facebook page, the ministry said insurgents kept chemical workshops on the land that was struck Tuesday in Idlib province.

Russia, which has backed Syrian President Bashar Assad in the civil war against rebel opposition, claimed the rebels sometimes transported the weapons to Iraq.

Yet activists on the ground said at least 70 people, including children, were the victims of a direct, poisonous attack by Mr. Assad’s forces. The attack swiftly evoked comparisons to the notorious gas attack outside of Damascus in 2013.

President Trump faulted his predecessor for failing to enforce his “red line” against Mr. Assad after that attack, though all sides in the U.S. blamed Mr. Assad for the “reprehensible” attack on Tuesday.

Sen. Tim Kaine, Virginia Democrat, said he was critical of President Obama’s approach to the Syrian issue, though he blasted Mr. Trump for relying on his criticism of the prior administration, now that he’s in charge.

“He’s got to put on his big boy pants and own up to the job,” Mr. Kaine told CNN.

Mr. Kaine said Mr. Assad should be prosecuted for war crimes in The Hague and that an international coalition should set up a safe zone to render aid to Syrians.

Yet he’s worried that Mr. Trump won’t take a hard enough line, given his soft stance on Russian President Vladimir Putin, who in turn backs Mr. Assad.

“This is a president who will never get crossways with Russia,” said Mr. Kaine, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Mr. Trump issued a statement on the attack Tuesday afternoon, though he hasn’t used his favored platform — Twitter — to call attention to the attacks.

However his daughter, Ivanka, tweeted early Wednesday she was “heartbroken and outraged by the images coming out of Syria following the atrocious chemical attack yesterday.”

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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