The White House alleged on Monday that the Syrian government appears to be preparing a chemical attack on civilians. In a statement, the White House appeared to threaten military action against Syria.
“The United States has identified potential preparations for another chemical weapons attack by the [Bashar al] Assad regime that would likely result in the mass murder of civilians, including innocent children,” the White House wrote in a Monday night statement. “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 Trump administration’s statement warned that the Assad regime’s alleged activities in advance of the attack “are similar to preparations the regime made before its April 4, 2017 chemical weapons attack.” That attack, which killed between 58 and more than 100 civilians in the town of Khan Shaykhun in western Syria, was the deadliest chemical weapons incident in the country’s ongoing civil war since 2013. The Assad regime pledged to get rid of its chemical stockpiles afterward.
After the April 4 incident, Damascus denied having used chemical weapons in that attack; its allies in the Russian government posited that the Syrian aircraft seen dropping the weapons had actually bombed a rebel-controlled warehouse that “may have contained a rebel chemical arms stockpile.”
In retaliation for the chemical strike, President Trump ordered the launching of 59 cruise missiles at Shayrat Air Base, the alleged source of the aircraft responsible for the attack.
Shortly after the White House statement, United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley appeared to tweet her support for the statement, and implicated Russia and Iran in the chemical strikes. "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," Haley tweeted.