U.S. warns of possible chemical attack by Assad


An ominous message from the White House late Monday warned Syria that it "will pay a heavy price" if it carries out another chemical attack against civilians, including children.

Monday's strikes hit an IS-run jail in Syria's Mayadeen at dawn, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitor. Adrian Rankine-Galloway, a Defense Department spokesman, said in a statement.

The allegations of casualties at the prison "will be provided to our civilian casualty team for assessment", he added.

Shamkhani added that though Iran and Russian Federation initiated the establishment of a fact-finding group upon the U.S's military attack on the Syrian military base, Washington prevented it.

A week later, Trump ordered the largest non-nuclear device in the Us arsenal, the "mother of all bombs", to be dropped on an Islamic State site in eastern Afghanistan.

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Two events in the past month -- the shooting down by a U.S. plane of a Syrian Su-22 and the use of ballistic missiles by Iran against ISIS targets - are evidence of a scramble in eastern Syria that's been gathering pace since the beginning of the year.

In a statement from the office of press secretary Sean Spicer late on Monday, the United States said it has identified "potential preparations" by the Syrian regime for the use of chemical weapons that appear similar to an April 4 attack on a rebel- held town.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad may be preparing another chemical weapons attack, one that would result in the "mass murder" of civilians, the White House said on Monday, warning the regime would pay a "heavy price" if it went ahead with such an assault.

The April 4th chemical attack on the opposition-held town of Khan Sheikhoun in Syria killed over 80 people and drew harsh criticism from governments overseas, including the United States.

Trump's approach has been created to "dissuade" Syria from using chemical weapons, Mattis added. The U.N. has blamed three attacks on Assad's government and a fourth on the Islamic State group.

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Both Syria and Russian Federation blasted the most recent White House statement, with a Syrian minister suggesting the USA was trying to gain leverage before a new United Nations diplomatic offensive and with Russian Federation calling the threat "unacceptable". Assad has also visited wounded soldiers in the Hama countryside, accompanied by his wife Asma and children, state media reported on Tuesday.

Defence Secretary Jim Mattis insisted the United States was not taking sides in the Syrian conflict. Mattis said. "You stay focused on where the enemy is and you set up any number of coordination efforts if you're getting near converging forces, either Assad regime or Russian".

Tuesday's news came one day after the White House made a similar statement about detecting possible chemical weapons preparations at the Al Shayrat field. Assad has also been backed in the war by Iran.

Assad did not respond to the USA warnings as he toured an airbase in western Syria that hosts Russian aircraft and troops n June 27.

"The Syrian people will not forget the support of their Russian brothers", Assad wrote in the visitors' book at the Hmeimim base.

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