USA says Syria may be preparing for chemical weapons attack


The White House said in a statement released late on Monday (Tuesday time) the preparations by Syria were similar to those undertaken before an April 4 chemical attack that killed dozens of civilians and prompted US President Donald Trump to order a cruise missile strike on a Syrian air base.

The Navy launched Tomahawk missiles at a Syrian military airfield April 6 in response to a previous alleged chemical weapons attack, using two guided-missile destroyers in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, the USS Ross and USS Porter, to do so. He did not say how the United States collected its intelligence.

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

Assad said in an interview with the AFP news agency earlier this year that the alleged April attack was "100 per cent fabrication" used to justify a USA air strike.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said Monday on Twitter: "Any further attacks done to the people of Syria will be blamed on Assad, but also on Russian Federation and Iran who support him killing his own people".

Nikki Haley, Trump's United Nations envoy, said the White House warning on Syria was meant for a wider audience.

The Islamic State is believed to have moved most of its leadership to Mayadin in Syria's Euphrates Valley, southeast of the group's besieged capital Raqqa, according to USA intelligence officials. I don't see a healthy Syria with Assad in place.

Nikki Haley, the USA ambassador to the United Nations, double downed on the White House's remarks late Monday and said that "future attacks" in Syria would be blamed on Assad's regime.

White House officials did not respond to requests for comment on potential USA plans or the intelligence that prompted the statement about Syria's preparations for an attack.

Ali Haidar, the Syrian minister for national reconciliation, told the Associated Press on Tuesday that the USA had made the accusation in order to pave the way for a "diplomatic battle" against Syria at the United Nations.

"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. The United States regularly flies both manned and unmanned aircraft over Syria and also has some satellites capable of recording images of the battlefield. "And we also believe a healthy Syria won't happen with Assad in place", Haley said.

The White House said that there are "potential preparations for another chemical weapons attack" by the Syrian regime and warned the country's president, Bashar al-Assad, of a "heavy price" if one is carried out. "In the last case it was", Mr. Fallon said.

The Russian government denounced the US airstrikes against its ally, with the Kremlin spokesman calling the strikes "aggression against a sovereign state in violation of worldwide law".

The assessment was based in part on the locations, securitysurrounding the suspect sites and other information which theofficial declined to describe.

Although the intelligence was not considered conclusive, Washington made a decision to issue the public warning to the Syrian leadership to try to deter such a strike, said the official, who declined to discuss the issue further.

Syria's war began in March 2011 with anti-government protests that spiralled into a complex and devastating conflict that has killed more than 320,000 people.

But television footage of victims of April's attack, including children, writhing in agony, caused revulsion across the world.