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USA officials say military hotline with Russian Federation remains open

US officials informed Russian forces ahead of the strikes, which were meant to punish the Syrian government for what they said was a chemical weapons attack, and avoided hitting Russian personnel.

US officials accused Russian Federation of failing to ensure Syrian President Bashar Assad's commitment to a 2013 deal for the destruction of Assad's chemical weapons arsenal.

Satellite imagery suggests the Shayrat air base that was struck by dozens of USA missiles is home to Russian special forces and military helicopters, part of the Kremlin's effort to help the Syrian government fight Islamic State and other militant groups. It could even put the two nuclear superpowers on a course toward military confrontation.

Tuesday's attack was the first time since 2013 that Syria was accused of using sarin, a banned nerve agent it was meant to have given up under a Russian-brokered, United Nations -enforced deal that persuaded Obama to call off air strikes four years ago.

The U.S. used the "deconfliction channel" to warn Russian Federation ahead of time that Thursday's strike was coming, Dorrian said.

The U.S. officials also said they're aware of Russians with chemical weapons expertise who've been in Syria.

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"It is to the benefit of all parties operating in the air over Syria to avoid accidents and miscalculation, and we hope the Russian Ministry of Defense comes to this conclusion as well". But the Kremlin insists Assad's government wasn't responsible for the attack, saying civilians in Khan Sheikhoun were exposed to toxic agents from a rebel arsenal that was hit by Syrian warplanes.

The attack - the first United States strike against the Syrian regime - was in response to a chemical weapons attack that reportedly killed more than 70 civilians, including 20 children in Idlib province on Tuesday.

"President Putin believes that the US strikes on Syria represent an aggression against a sovereign state in violation of worldwide law under a far-fetched pretext", Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in a statement.

Syria has aging Soviet-built aircraft and air defense missile systems, while Russian Federation has deployed dozens of its cutting edge warplanes and air defense batteries at its base in Syria's coastal province of Latakia.

In this image provided by the U.S. Navy, the guided-missile destroyer USS Porter (DDG 78) launches a tomahawk land attack missile in the Mediterranean Sea, Friday, April 7, 2017.

The declarations contradict Russia's claim that it has suspended participation in the so-called "deconfliction channel" after the American cruise missile strikes on Syria. Airwars, a nonprofit monitoring airstrikes in the war against the Islamic State group, noted that USA -led attacks typically focus on areas away from Russian activity, though ending the cooperation represents "a worrying development". The two ships are moving west, and officials said there have been no interactions with the Admiral Grigorovich.

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