Published: Wed, June 28, 2017
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Mattis says Syrain President Assad took Trump's chemical warning 'seriously'

Mattis says Syrain President Assad took Trump's chemical warning 'seriously'

Washington has repeatedly struck Iranian-backed militia and even shot down a drone threatening USA -led coalition forces since the April military strike.

BuzzFeed, the AP, and the New York Timesreported that some Defense and State officials had no idea the White House was about to release this statement and that they had no idea where the information it was based on came from.

Spokesperson Captain Jeff Davis said the United States had seen activity that "indicated active preparations for chemical weapons use" at the Shayrat airfield in western Syria.

Paul Miller, associate director of the Clements Center for National Security at The University of Texas at Austin, says the statement is "a little confusing".

In April, Assad's troops were accused of launching a chemical attack on Khan Sheikhoun that killed at least 80 people, including women and children. We also heard reports of chatter happening on the ground in preparation for a possible imminent attack.

"We just refuse to get drawn into a fight there in the Syria civil war", he said.

In April, US President Donald Trump launched an attack on Syria with 59 Tomahawk missiles, which targeted Shayrat Airbase near the city of Homs. The Syrians denied responsibility. And it raised some questions about what the US could do if such an attack happens again.

Trump's approach has been created to "dissuade" Syria from using chemical weapons, Mattis added.

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The White House said the recent preparations in Syria were similar to actions before the April attack. The situation "was very fast-moving", the official said Tuesday.

U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley spoke at a House hearing today.

A warning by the White House that urged Syria's president to refrain from a potential chemical attack is also directed at his principal worldwide backers, Russian Federation and Iran, the U.S.'s United Nations ambassador said Tuesday.

Russian President Vladimir Putin's spokesman said "such threats to Syria's legitimate leaders are unacceptable".

Any military action against Syria under the allegations of "potential" chemical weapon use by the Syrian government would only help the terrorists, the Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qasemi was quoted as saying.

In response to the April attack, the USA struck the Syrian airfield with 59 cruise missiles, the first time the US military directly targeted the Assad regime. Russian Federation and Syria also carry out airstrikes in Deir el-Zour, and it was not clear how the activists identified the aircraft responsible. Today, it's unclear what the broader US strategy is. The far hasn't provided details to bolster this week's claim of a chemical attack being planned. Going forward, will the USA put out a statement every time it suspects chemical weapons attacks? But that statement appeared to take defense officials off guard.

MARGARET WARNER: For the PBS NewsHour, I'm Margaret Warner.

During an interview on CNN's "Erin Burnett Outfront", Deputy Assistant to the President Sebastian Gorka said he was unable to discuss the specific intelligence that prompted the warning or what a "heavy price" might mean.

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