The Pentagon said Tuesday it has found “active preparations” by Syria for planning a chemical attack, informing the White House that the Syrian government would “pay a heavy price” if it conducted such chemical attack.
Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis said U.S. intelligence had found Shayrat was a sanctuary for suspicious activities over the last couple days, including increased aircraft activity, which gave rise to speculations over “active preparations for chemical weapons use.”
It has been reported that Syrian air force carried out an attack in April that the U.S. and others confirmed contained lethal chemicals to kill civilians. Syria, on the other hand, denied the claims.
Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said the White House warning aims at reaching other pro-Al-Assad countries as Russia and Iran. It is meant to be an eye-opener to what the current Syrian government is up to.
“The goal is at this point not just to send Assad a message, but to send Russia and Iran a message,” Haley told a House panel. “That if this happens again, we are putting you on notice. My hope is that the president’s warning will certainly get Iran and Russia to take a second look, and I hope that it will caution Assad.”
Denial Of White House Accusations
Assad’s government and Russia denied the White House accusations. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that “such threats to Syria’s legitimate leaders are unacceptable.”
A Monday evening statement by White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said the U.S. had “identified potential preparations for another chemical weapons attack by the Assad regime that would likely result in the mass murder of civilians, including innocent children.”
Spicer said that the same procedures were taken earlier before the April attack in Aleppo.
Syria insisted on denying using chemical and lethal substances. Russia’s Defense Ministry revealed that the lethal substances were released when a Syrian airstrike blasted a chemical arsenal and munitions factory.