U.S. says Syria warning also aimed at Russia, Iran


Chief Pentagon Spokesperson Dana White said the Pentagon would not discuss intelligence matters, but said, "the Assad regime's use of chemical weapons against its own people is well-documented".

Two months after Donald Trump launched 59 cruise missiles at Syria in response to a gas attack that killed dozens of civilians, the White House on Monday night said the USA had detected signs that the regime of Bashar al-Assad was planning another attack. Given that opposition to Syria's ally Iran is emerging as the organizing principle of the Trump administration's Mideast strategy, it seems unlikely that the USA will agree to simply cede areas captured from ISIS back to Assad.

That assault with 59 Tomahawk missiles marked the first direct USA attack on the Syrian regime and Mr Trump's most dramatic military action since he took power in January.

When the White House issued a statement Monday evening threatening to exact "a heavy price" in response to a potential chemical attack by the Syrian government, senior national security officials were caught off guard, NBC News reported.

"As long as it is worked out by the commanders and enough people know about it in sufficient time, there are ways that are proven that we can do this", he said. The United States launched cruise missile strikes on Shayrat following the April attack, in what was the first US military action against Syria in its six-year civil war.

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The White House today reinforced a stark warning to the government of Syria's Bashar al-Assad against using chemical weapons.

The White House offered no details on what prompted the warning.

He has said repeatedly that his forces turned over all chemical weapons stockpiles in 2013, under a deal brokered by Russian Federation to avoid threatened U.S. military action.

In a statement issued Monday summarizing the conversation between the two chief diplomats, Moscow said Lavrov urged Tillerson to prevent "provocations" by the USA and its allies against "Syrian government forces carrying out operations against terrorists". Russian President Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that "such threats to Syria's legitimate leaders are unacceptable".

Russian Federation is flying a bombing campaign in Syria in support of Assad, while the USA is heading a coalition mainly targeting ISIL.

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Russia's defence ministry said the toxic agents were released when a Syrian air strike hit a rebel chemical weapons arsenal and munitions factory.

Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, the Pentagon's director of press operations, told reporters Tuesday the information gathered by military officials emerged "over the last few days" but "became more compelling in the last day". "It's going to take more precision", Mattis said.

Syria, Russia and Iran claim that Assad has never used chemical weapons, while the U.N has blamed the Assad regime for three previous chemical attacks since the Syrian Civil War began in 2011.

The U.S. says it saw active preparations at Syria's Shayrat airfield for using such weapons.

Still, asked whether Assad had called off any such strike completely, Mattis said, "I think you better ask Assad about that".

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