Top officials in Syria and at the Kremlin dismissed the White House’s accusations late Monday that Bashar al-Assad’s regime appears to be preparing another chemical attack on civilians. Ali Haidar, Syria’s minister for national reconciliation, told the Associated Press on Tuesday that the Trump administration’s charges were just part of a new diplomatic campaign against Syria at the United Nations. In Moscow, Dmitry Peskov, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, declared “such threats to Syria’s legitimate leaders are unacceptable.”
“The United States has identified potential preparations for another chemical-weapons attack by the [Bashar al] Assad regime that would likely result in the mass murder of civilians, including innocent children,” the White House said in a statement late Monday. “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 statement warned the alleged activities “are similar to preparations the regime made before its April 4, 2017 chemical-weapons attack”—after which the U.S. military fired cruise missiles at the airfield where the suspected bombers took off.
Several military officials were caught off guard by the White House's Syria statement https://t.co/JOKDD6Zhzz
— The New York Times (@nytimes) June 27, 2017