Trump warns Syria against chem­i­cal at­tacks

The Washington Times Daily - - WORLD - BY CARLO MUÑOZ

The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion is­sued a rare, pre­emp­tive warn­ing to the Syr­ian regime against launch­ing any chem­i­cal weapons at­tacks, warn­ing Da­m­as­cus will “pay a heavy price” if it re­fuses to heed Wash­ing­ton’s red line.

The warn­ing, sent via a White House state­ment posted late Mon­day night, cited re­cent in­tel­li­gence show­ing gov­ern­ment forces loyal to Syr­ian Pres­i­dent Bashar As­sad were pre­par­ing to launch a chem­i­cal at­tack.

Ac­cord­ing to the state­ment, “the United States has iden­ti­fied po­ten­tial prepa­ra­tions for an­other chem­i­cal weapons at­tack … sim­i­lar to prepa­ra­tions the regime made be­fore its April 4, 2017, chem­i­cal weapons at­tack.”

White House of­fi­cials de­clined to pro­vide specifics on the in­tel­li­gence show­ing a chem­i­cal at­tack by the Rus­sia-backed Syr­ian regime was im­mi­nent, nor what a U.S. re­sponse would en­tail.

How­ever, what­ever re­sponse ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials were pre­par­ing would be req­ui­site to hold­ing Syr­ian forces re­spon­si­ble for “an­other mass mur­der at­tack us­ing chem­i­cal weapons,” ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials said Mon­day night.

U.S. Am­bas­sador to the U.N. Nikki Ha­ley raised the specter of a wider war, threat­en­ing Syria’s al­lies in Moscow and Tehran.

“Any fur­ther at­tacks done to the peo­ple of Syria will be blamed on As­sad, but also on Rus­sia & Iran who sup­port him killing his own peo­ple,” she said on Twit­ter.

In April Pres­i­dent Trump or­dered the bom­bard­ment of al-Shayrat air base in western Syria, which U.S. mil­i­tary and in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cials said was the source of a chem­i­cal at­tack by the As­sad regime against anti-gov­ern­ment forces near Idlib prov­ince that month.

The 59 Tom­a­hawk mis­siles de­liv­ered by the Ar­leigh Burke-class de­stroy­ers into al Shayrat was “a one-off strike” in re­sponse to the Idlib at­tack, in which mu­ni­tions armed with sarin nerve gas were dropped on rebel tar­gets, end­ing in over 80 dead, in­clud­ing 11 chil­dren, of­fi­cials from U.S. Cen­tral Com­mand said at the time.

The Amer­i­can strikes were the first time U.S. forces di­rectly en­gaged Syr­ian gov­ern­ment tar­gets since be­gin­ning op­er­a­tions in the coun­try two years ago.

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