SANA/Handout via REUTERS
The White House on Monday evening issued an ominous warning to Syria, accusing the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad of preparing a “potential” new chemical attack.
“The United States has identified potential preparations for another chemical weapons attack by the Assad regime that would likely result in the mass murder of civilians, including innocent children,” the White House statement read in part. “The activities are similar to preparations the regime made before its April 4, 2017 chemical weapons attack.”
“As we have previously stated, the United States is in Syria to eliminate the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. If, however, Mr. Assad conducts another mass murder attack using chemical weapons, he and his military will pay a heavy price,” the statement read.
Specifics about the alleged preparations were not immediately clear, and White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer provided no evidence to back up the administration’s claims.
The Trump administration in April ordered missile strikes on an airfield in Syria in response to a chemical weapons attack that killed at least 80 civilians. The April missile strikes targeted the Shayrat airfield and nearby military infrastructure controlled by Assad. The strikes yielded mixed results, only temporarily halting Syria’s aviation capabilities there.
While Trump received some positive reactions from US lawmakers for his decision to take military action against Syria, the global response was far from unanimous. Several countries — including Turkey, Israel, France, Germany, Australia, Italy, and Saudi Arabia — expressed support.
But Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is a close ally of Assad, criticized the US, briefly ramping up tensions between itself and the Trump administration. Russia sent additional warships to Syria as a result. Iran, another Syrian ally, called the strike “destructive and dangerous,” while the Syrian government said it was “foolish and irresponsible.”