White House issues stern warning to Syria

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Syrian President Bashar Assad could be planning another deadly chemical weapons attack, according to a Monday statement by the Trump administration.

“The United States has 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,” Press Secretary Sean Spicer said in a statement.

Spicer noted that current activities in Syria resemble the preparations made for the attack perpetrated in April that was blamed on Assad’s regime.

“As we have previously stated, the United States is in Syria to eliminate the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria,” Spicer said. “If, however, Mr. Assad conducts another mass murder attack using chemical weapons, he and his military will pay a heavy price.”

According to the Associated Press, the White House did not disclose what prompted the warning which reportedly caught several State Department officials off guard since it did not seem to have been discussed in advance with national security agencies.

Entities typically consulted prior to the White House issuing such a warning include the State Department, the Pentagon and U.S. intelligence.

Fox News reported that a non-governmental source closely associated with 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.”

Following the statement from the White House, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said “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.”

Earlier Monday, President Trump hosted Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the White House where they dined with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster and other top officials.

The Russian Foreign Ministry confirmed that Tillerson and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov spoke earlier Monday regarding the need to secure a cease-fire in Syria, fight extremist groups and prevent the use of chemical weapons.

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