The White House issued a warning to Syrian President Assad not to carry out another sarin gas attack.
The White House issued a stern warning to Syrian President Bashar Assad on Monday night, saying the US has gathered “potential” evidence that Syria was preparing for another chemical weapons attack.
In an ominous statement issued without supporting evidence or further explanation, Press Secretary Sean Spicer said the US 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.”
He said the activities were similar to preparations taken before an April 2017 attack that killed dozens of men, women and children, and warned that if “Mr. Assad conducts another mass murder attack using chemical weapons, he and his military will pay a heavy price.”
The White House offered no details on what prompted the warning and spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said she had no additional information Monday night.
A non-governmental source with close ties to the White House said the administration had received intelligence that the Syrians were mixing precursor chemicals for a possible sarin gas attack in either the east or south of the country, where government troops and their proxies have faced recent setbacks.
Russia and Iran Responsible
Assad denied responsibility for the April 4 attack on the town of Khan Sheikhoun in the rebel-held Idlib province that killed dozens of people, including children. Victims showed signs of suffocation, convulsions, foaming at the mouth, and pupil constriction.
Days later, President Donald Trump launched a retaliatory cruise missile strike on a Syrian government-controlled air base, where US.officials said the Syrian military had launched the chemical attack.
It was the first direct American assault on the Syrian government and Trump’s most dramatic military order since becoming president months before.
Trump said at the time that the Khan Sheikhoun attack crossed “many, many lines,” and called on “all civilized nations” to join the US in seeking an end to the carnage in Syria.
Syria maintained it hadn’t used chemical weapons and blamed opposition fighters for stockpiling the chemicals. Russia’s Defense Ministry said the toxic agents were released when a Syrian airstrike hit a rebel chemical weapons arsenal and munitions factory. Russia is a close ally of Assad.
Chemical weapons have killed hundreds of people since the start of the conflict.
Nikki Haley, the US Ambassador to the United Nations, followed up Spicer’s statement with a Twitter warning: “Any further attacks done to the people of Syria will be blamed on Asaad, but also on Russia and Iran, who support him killing his own people.”