Mattis says Syria's government taking US threat seriously

Sean Spicer

Sean Spicer

The US strike on the Shayrat airfield followed the deaths of 87 people in what Washington said was a poison gas attack in rebel-held territory two days earlier.

President Donald Trump, in a late Monday night statement signed by his press secretary, signaled his intentions in Syria's ongoing conflict, telegraphing that the United States is aware of "potential preparations for another chemical weapons attack" carried out by President Bashar al-Assad's regime and stands prepared to respond if the attack is carried out. "If, however, Mr. Assad conducts another mass murder attack using chemical weapons, he and his military will pay a heavy price".

The security official said if the U.S.is right it must allow the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) investigate the issue.

USA warships launched 59 cruise missiles at a Syrian airbase in early April in response to a chemical attack believed to be carried out by forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad. "It appears they took the warning seriously". There is one major difference: Whereas Obama backed down from a threat to use force after a 2013 attack, opting instead for a diplomatic plan to remove Syria's chemical weapons arsenal, Trump has proven his willingness to authorize military force.

White House officials did not respond to requests for comment on the intelligence that prompted the statement, or on possible United States plans if Syria carried out such an attack.

But Russia challenged the U.S. intelligence.

The U.N. has ascribed responsibility to Assad's government for three previous attacks during Syria's six-year civil war.

Washington accused Syrian forces of using the Shayrat airfield for a chemical weapons attack in April. If you would like to discuss another topic, look for a relevant article.

THE United States will continue arming Syrian Kurdish separatists after the defeat of Isis, Defence Secretary James Mattis said yesterday.

"The goal is at this point not just to send Assad a message, but to send Russian Federation and Iran a message", Haley told a House panel.

In Moscow Tuesday, a senior Russian lawmaker dismissed the warning as "provocation".

The U.S. strike was the first direct American assault on the Syrian government and Trump's most dramatic military order since becoming president months before. Earlier this month, the USA shot down a Syrian fighter jet for the first time.

Syria denied using chemical weapons.

The overnight White House threat caught many in Trump's own administration by surprise.

"Certainly, we consider such threats to the legitimate leadership of the Syrian Arab Republic unacceptable". The statement comes after the USA accused Syria of preparing for a chemical attack, without giving any evidence. But in April, more than 80 people were killed in a suspected chemical weapons attack in north-western Syria.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders flatly denied the White House was freelancing on foreign policy.

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