Syria preparing for chemical weapons attack

Danny Woods
June 27, 2017

"In a statement, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said that the United States had detected evidence of preparations for a chemical attack, similar to the preparations that occurred before an attack in April". The statement says the activity is similar to what it noticed before the April 4 attack and warns that if "Mr. Assad conducts another mass murder attack using chemical weapons, he and his military will pay a heavy price".

Days later, President Donald Trump launched a retaliatory cruise missile strike on a Syrian government-controlled air base where US officials said the Syrian military had launched the chemical attack. Adrian Rankine-Galloway, said. He said Assad's "brutality" threatens the region and US interests, and any Syrian attacks with weapons of mass destruction risk prompting others to use similar weapons. Earlier this month, the USA shot down a Syrian fighter jet for the first time.

But Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the United Nations, made clear that the USA was taking it seriously.

USA military officials declined to say what kind of chemical weapons may be at Shayrat now, or how they observed them.

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.

The Trump administration threatened Tuesday that Syria will pay "a heavy price" if it follows through on what the US says are preparations for another chemical weapons attack - warning of action that could plunge America deeper into a civil war alongside the fight against Islamic State militants.

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Assad proved Kerry definitively wrong in early April 2017 after dropping sarin gas on hundreds of civilians in rebel held areas of Syria.

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". "Soon after the strike, experts said that victims' symptoms suggested a toxic chemical was used - specifically the potent nerve agent sarin". It said "another chemical weapons attack by the Assad regime" was likely to result "in the mass murder of civilians", the BBC report said. Additionally, the former SC governor said she would blame Russian Federation and Iran for supporting the Syrian government.

Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, said Tuesday the activity at the Shayrat air base indicates "active preparations for chemical weapons use".

The White House statement on Monday night was made without forewarning and caught State Department officials by surprise. Typically, the State Department, the Pentagon and USA intelligence agencies would all be consulted before the White House issued a declaration sure to ricochet across foreign capitals.

But monitoring groups said the strikes had also destroyed an underground prison holding at least 57 people who had been arrested for flouting the laws of Islamic State's hard-line rule.

USA ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley tweeted that Russian Federation and Iran would share the blame of any future attack by Mr Assad against the Syrian people.

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