White House warns Syria's Assad against chemical attack


Now a statement from the White House has warned President Bashar al-Assad against a chemical attack, suggesting Syria would pay "a heavy price" for doing so.

After the airstrike, Russian Federation and Iran warned that any further such action against their ally in Damascus would cross their own "red lines", according to a Reuters report.

Russian Federation has slammed Washington's threats against the Syrian government following a recent White House statement alleging that President Bashar Assad's forces are preparing to use chemical weapons.

In Moscow Tuesday, a senior Russian lawmaker dismissed the warning as "provocation".

Following that, the U.S. launched a missile strike against a government air base in Syria in the first direct military intervention against Bashar al-Assad since the civil war began in 2011.

Assad has denied responsibility for that attack in the rebel-held Idlib province that killed dozens of people, and Russia, Assad's key backer, sided with him.

"Certainly, we consider such threats to the legitimate leadership of the Syrian Arab Republic unacceptable", Peskov said.

The White House statement on Monday night was made without forewarning and caught State Department officials by surprise.

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Last week, a United States military jet shot down a Syrian warplane that dropped bombs near US-backed fighters in Tabqa, northern Syria.

US and allied intelligence officers had for some time identified several sites where they suspected the Assad government may have been hiding newly made chemical weapons from inspectors, said one USA official familiar with the intelligence. The oppositionists blamed government troops of Syria for the attack.

The U.S. strike in April was the first direct American assault on the Syrian government and Trump's most dramatic military order since becoming president.

The suspected attack in April in the rebel held town of Khan Sheikhun killed at least 87 people, including many children, and images of the dead and of suffering victims provoked global outrage. The Syrian Government has not yet issued a response to the White House.

Syria reiterated its insistence that it had never used chemical weapons, and blamed opposition fighters for stockpiling the chemicals.

Nikki Haley, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations has also said that Russian Federation and Iran would be blamed for any chemical attack on Syrians.

The U.N. Security Council is meeting on Tuesday morning on Syria, expected to be briefed by Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura on political developments, CBS News' Pamela Falk reports, and Council members will consider new information on chemical weapons attacks, during consultations following the meeting, diplomats said.

Syria's war began in March 2011 with anti-government protests that spiralled into a complex and devastating conflict that has killed more than 320,000 people.