Wednesday, 22 November, 2017

USA says Syrian regime preparing for potential chemical weapons attack

Lillian Steele | 27 June, 2017, 11:18

It warned that Syria would "pay a heavy price" if any such attack proceeds, NBC News reported.

Assad, backed by his ally Russian Federation, has strongly denied the allegation that his forces used chemical weapons in Khan Sheikhoun, describing it as a "100 percent fabrication".

In the brief statement, the White House gave no details of the purported preparations or of how they had been detected.

Spicer announced that the United States identified "potential preparations" for another attack using chemical weapons, predicting that it would attack civilians, including children.

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

But a White House administration source told NBC News that it believes an attack could be imminent and said that if the United States statement deters another attack, lives will have been saved. An Israeli military assessment also found that Assad's regime was still in possession of "a few tons" of chemical weapons. Trump, who took to Twitter not long after the statement went out, focused his attention on a Fox News report related to former President Barack Obama and the 2016 election rather than developments in Syria. USA and allied intelligence officers have identified several sites where they suspect the Assad government may be hiding newly-made chemical weapons from inspectors. It said only that "the activities are similar to preparations the regime made before its April 4, 2017, chemical weapons attack". It is far deadlier than some other chemical weapons that US military and intelligence officials say that the regime has used, such as chlorine.

The strike marked the U.S.'s first direct assault on the Syrian government and was one of Trump's most dramatic military orders since taking office.

"It is in this vital national security interest of the United States to prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons", Trump said afterwards, justifying his use of force against Syria. The U.S. military also shot down a Syrian jet earlier this month.

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