U.S. warns Syria will pay 'heavy price' for another chemical attack

Frederick Owens
June 27, 2017

The White House accused the President Bashar al-Assad's regime of plotting another chemical attack, similar to one that killed dozens and sparked a retaliatory USA airstrike, officials said Monday.

The White House, in a statement claiming that Syrian President Bashar Assad's government is allegedly reading a chemical attack, said it would "likely result in the mass murder of civilians".

"As we have previously stated, the United States is in Syria to eliminate the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria".

America has warned Syrian President Bashar Assad will pay a "heavy price" if the country carries out another chemical attack.

Earlier Monday, Trump had dinner with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster and other top officials as he hosted Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the White House.

He said the activities were similar to preparations taken before the attack in April, but provided no evidence or further explanation.

Mr Trump ordered the strike on the Shayrat airfield in Syria in April in reaction to what Washington said was a poison gas attack by Mr Assad's government that killed 87 people in rebel-held territory.

The U.S. military maintains a variety of weapons in the region that could be used in the event of another strike, including manned and unmanned aircraft in several Middle Eastern countries.

The White House offered no details on what prompted the warning.

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The Pentagon says the USA has seen chemical weapons activity at a Syrian air base that was used for an April sarin gas attack.

United States ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said on Twitter: "Any further attacks done to the people of Syria will be blamed on Assad, but also on Russian Federation and Iran who support him killing his own people".

Immediately after the White House issued its warning to the Assad regime on Monday, US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley tweeted: "Any further attacks done to the people of Syria will be blamed on Assad, but also on Russia & Iran who support him killing his own people".

The preparations seen were similar to those undertaken before a suspected chemical attack on civilians in April, according to the statement.

Syria denied using chemical weapons.

It is unclear though how closely held the intelligence about a potential weapons attack was.

It also noted that the US military presence in Syria is "unsanctioned" by the Assad regime, a point frequently made by Russian Federation as well.

- The US shot down two Iranian-made drones this month, marking an escalation in the area around At Tanf - a base where coalition forces are advising an anti-ISIS Syrian rebel group.

Syria's six-year civil war has left more than 300,000 people dead and created more than five million refugees.

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