The US says it has identified “potential preparations” for another chemical attack in Syria, and issued a stark warning to the Bashar al-Assad government, a media report said.
Trump responded by firing 59 Tomahawk missiles at a Syrian air force base believed to be the launching point for the plane that conducted the chemical attack.
The statement continued saying that the USA are in Syria to eliminate ISIS from Iraq and Syria but if the Syrian president “conducts another mass murder attack using chemical weapons, he and his army will pay a heavy price”.
Peskov criticized the Trump administration for using the phrase “another chemical weapons attack”, arguing that an independent investigation into the April attack was never conducted despite Russia’s calls for one.
Assad had denied responsibility for an April 4 attack on the town of Khan Sheikhoun in the rebel-held Idlib province that killed dozens of people, including children.
“The activities are similar to preparations the regime made before its April 4, 2017 chemical weapons attack”. It was not clear how they identified the aircraft responsible.
Ali Haidar, the minister for national reconciliation, told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the White House statement foreshadowed a “diplomatic battle” that would be waged against Syria in the halls of the United Nations.
The State Department and the Defence Department did not immediately comment on the development. Typically, the State Department, the Pentagon and US intelligence agencies would all be consulted before the White House issued a declaration sure to ricochet across foreign capitals.
The officials weren’t authorized to discuss national security planning publicly and requested anonymity.
Nikki Haley, the USA ambassador to the United Nations, extended the warning to the Syrian government’s allies.
The United States has taken a series of actions over the past three months demonstrating its willingness to carry out strikes, mostly in self-defense, against Syrian government forces and their backers, including Iran. “Soon after the strike, experts said that victims’ symptoms suggested a toxic chemical was used – specifically the potent nerve agent sarin”.
The US attack on the Syrian air base came after years of heated debate and deliberation in Washington over intervention in the bloody civil war.
Syria’s war began in March 2011 with anti-government protests that spiralled into a complex and devastating conflict that has killed more than 320,000 people.
President Donald Trump ordered the strikes and stated then: “It is in this vital national security of the United States to prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons”.
But US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis previously warned that there was “no doubt” that Syria had in fact retained some chemical weapons.
White House officials did not respond to requests for comment on potential U.S. plans or the intelligence that prompted the statement about Syria’s preparations for an attack.