Macron, Trump vow 'joint response' if chemical attack in Syria
January 22 2018, 08:31 | Irvin Gilbert
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The U.S. accusation and ominous warning marked a further escalation of tensions in a country where the U.S.is using Syrian Arab and Kurdish proxy soldiers to combat the Islamic State group in its remaining strongholds, even as Russian Federation and Iran work to support President Bashar Assad, who has gained the upper hand in a long civil war.
The White House said similar activities had been seen before bombs containing the nerve agent Sarin were allegedly dropped on a rebel-held town in April.
"As long as it is worked out by the commanders and enough people know about it in sufficient time, there are ways that are proven that we can do this", Mattis said.
In the days following, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis cautioned that the USA was prepared to take further action if Syria repeated such chemical weapons use.
President Donald Trump has said he won't stand for Syria's use of chemical weapons.
Russian Federation denounced a USA warning that the Syrian leadership will pay a heavy price for any chemical weapons attack, and dismissed White House assertions that a strike was being prepared as "unacceptable". On April 4, a chemical weapons attack was launched from the Shayrat base against Syrian civilians.
"As we have previously stated, the United States is in Syria to eliminate the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria", spokesman Sean Spicer said.
In Moscow, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in a conference call with reporters that Russian Federation has no information about the impending threat of a chemical weapons attack and warned that any retaliation against the Assad government would be "unacceptable".
The unusual public warning on Monday night appeared to be meant to deter the regime from repeating its use of chemical weapons against rebel-held cities and towns.
USA ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley went further in a tweet, saying that Syria's allies, Russian Federation and Iran, would also be blamed for such an attack.
A Syrian minister has dismissed a White House statement alleging that President Bashar Assad's government is preparing a new chemical weapons attack, saying Damascus has not and will not use such arms.
"That is why we do not think it is possible to lay the blame on the Syrian armed forces", Peskov said.
Nevertheless, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis said Monday that the United States will avoid getting drawn deeper into the Syrian civil war.
"We won't fire unless they are the enemy, unless they are ISIS", he said, using an acronym for the jihadist organisation. He said the Syrian government does not have chemical weapons.
Obama appeared at the White House podium in 2013 to declare "We have been very clear to the Assad regime ... that a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized".
President Donald Trump walks from the podium after speaking at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Fla., Thursday, April 6, 2017, after the USA fired a barrage of cruise missiles into Syria.
The strike was applauded at the time by anti-government Syrians, many of whom had long asked the United States to intervene in their country's conflict.
us military officials declined to say what kind of chemical weapons may be at Shayrat now, or how they observed them.
The U.S.is fighting the Islamic State in Syria and it has a limited military presence there, but it's unclear whether it would send additional resources to respond to chemical attacks by the Assad regime.
The UK would support any U.S. attack on Assad so long as it was proportionate, legal and necessary, Fallon added.
The White House warning, the official said, was based on new reports of what was described as abnormal activity that might be associated with preparations for a chemical attack.
Mr Al Assad appeared defiant on Tuesday, making a rare public trip outside of the capital to Russia's Hmeymim airbase in Latakia, despite the latest U.S. threats.
Frants Klintsevich, who sits on a defence committee in the Russian parliament, criticised the White House warning.