The White House came out saying they believed the Assad regime is planning another chemical weapons attack against the Syrian people. They warned the Syrian government would “pay a heavy price” if such an attack was carried out.
Now, the Pentagon is backing that statement.
Reportedly, it detected “active preparations” by Syria from a chemical attack.
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 Russia and Iran work to prop up President Bashar Assad, who has gained the upper hand in a long civil war.
A Pentagon spokesman, Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, said the U.S. had seen ‘activity’ at Shayrat airfield that ‘indicated active preparations for chemical weapons use.’ That is the same base from which the Syria air force launched an attack in April that the U.S. and others said used lethal chemicals to kill civilians. Syria denied the charge.
The White House said the impending attack would likely harm “innocent children and civilians.”
“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. The activities are similar to preparations the regime made before its April 4, 2017 chemical weapons attack.
“As we have previously stated, the United States is in Syria to eliminate the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
“If, however, Mr. Assad conducts another mass murder attack using chemical weapons, he and his military will pay a heavy price.”
The DailyMail speculates that if an attack is imminent, it could coincide with the end of the Muslim holiday Eid.
Footage from the last chemical attack shocked the world.
Assad denied that he has anything to do with the attack. He also had the audacity to suggest that the photos and videos were a hoax, staged by terrorist groups eager to turn the West against him.
President Trump responded by launching missiles on one of the Assad regime’s airbases.
When the White House first post their report of a second attack, news came out about a group of Kurdish fighters who had seized al-Qadisiy, part of the ISIS stronghold in Raqqa.
A spokeswoman for the group Syrian Democratic Force said it was the result of sustained airstrikes in the region since the start of the month.
Civilians in the region reported artillery and rocket launches on Monday. They shared their observations on the Facebook group Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently, one of the few remaining ways for them to communicate with the rest of the world.
Assad’s military conflict predates the spread of ISIS in Syria which now dominates news of the country’s catastrophic state.