Pentagon: 'active preparations' by Syria for chemical attack


In April, President Trump ordered the bombardment of al Shayrat air base in western Syria, which USA military and intelligence officials said was the source of the chemical attack that struck Idlib that month.

The White House statement gave Assad a stark warning that if the regime launched another chemical weapons attack, "he and his military will pay a heavy price".

Days later, United States president Donald Trump launched a cruise missile strike on a Syrian government-controlled air base where American officials said the chemical attack was launched.

But Russia, which is Bashar al-Assad's main backer in Syria's six-year-old civil war and has used its veto power on the UN Security Council several times to shield his government, challenged the USA intelligence.

President Emmanuel Macron agreed with U.S. President Donald Trump in a phone call on Tuesday that they would work together to find a common response in case of a new chemical attack in Syria, the French presidency said in a statement.

Despite the escalations, Washington has maintained that it is not seeking a fight with the Syrian government or its allies.In his statement Monday, Mr Spicer repeated that the USA was in Syria to fight ISIL.

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The Kremlin was not happy with the White House statement.

America says Syria may be preparing chemical attack, warns of heavy price.

Aftermath of the April 6 strike against the Syrian government's Shayrat Airfield.

NIKKI HALEY, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations: I believe that the goal is, at this point, not just to send Assad a message, but to send Russian Federation and Iran a message that, if this happens again, we are putting you on notice.

"We have observed activities at Shayrat Air Base that suggest possible intent by the Syrian regime to use chemical weapons again", another Pentagon spokesman, Adrian Rankine-Galloway, told Voice of America.

What did the White House say on Monday? The U.S. and its allies blame Syria for the attack.

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Typically, the State Department, the Pentagon and USA intelligence agencies would be consulted before the White House issued a declaration sure to reverberate across foreign capitals. But a USA official says the Russians have also used the launches to calibrate the targeting radars that could be used to bring down tomahawk missiles.

The lawmaker's comments fell in line with the official statements from Moscow, which also condemned the Trump administration's red line on chemical weapons use Monday night.

Earlier in April, Washington had accused Syria of carrying out a chemical attack on civilians, a claim refuted by the Syrian regime.

MARGARET WARNER: A chemical weapons attack was launched from that same base in April, killing dozens of men, women and children.

"We're now starting to add to the sort of militarization of this particular tension between governments, and that's very worrying because these things can suddenly lose control and get out of hand", Billingsley said.

"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. "That if this happens again, we are putting you on notice. Anonymous leaks to the contrary are false", according to a White House press pool report on Tuesday.

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The attack on April 4 was reportedly the third chemical attack by the Syrian regime in a little over a week. The United States' main priority is still ISIS, and despite the recent incidents with Syria, there's no reason to think that priority has changed. That incident prompted a USA missile strike on the base, although the strike did not seriously impair its operations. Dmitry Peskov, Russian President Vladimir Putin's spokesman, said threats posed to the "legitimate leadership" of Syria were "unacceptable".