The White House announced that Syria may be planning another chemical weapons attack that “will likely result in the mass murder of civilians.”
In a statement released late Monday evening, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said the U.S. had found “potential” evidence that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was preparing to conduct an attack similar to the one carried out on April 4 that killed dozens of civilians, including children.
“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 statement said. “The activities are similar to preparations the regime made before its April 4, 2017 chemical weapons attack.”
“If … Mr. Assad conducts another mass murder attack using chemical weapons, he and his military will pay a heavy price,” the statement warned.
The White House did not provide any specific evidence to support the claim.
The April 4 attack, which killed at least 70 people in the rebel-held territory of Idlib province, prompted President Donald Trump to order a cruise missile strike on a Syrian government-controlled air base. The Assad regime has denied responsibility for the attack.
The strike marked the U.S.’s first direct assault on the Syrian government and was one of Trump’s most dramatic military orders since taking office.
United States ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley noted on Monday Assad’s two main military backers, Russia and Iran, would share responsibility for any further attacks against Syrian civilians.
“Any further attacks done to the people of Syria will be blamed on Assad, but also on Russia and Iran who support him killing his own people,” Haley said in a Tweet late Monday.
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.
— Nikki Haley (@nikkihaley) June 27, 2017