Assad will ‘pay a heavy price’ for chemical attack, White House says


WASHINGTON — The U.S. said Monday it had identified Syrian government preparations for a chemical weapons attack similar to one in April that killed dozens and warned that President Bashar al-Assad would pay a “heavy price” if it went ahead.

“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,” White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said in statement.

“As we have previously stated, the United States is in Syria to eliminate the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria,” Spicer said. “If, however, Mr Assad conducts another mass murder attack using chemical weapons, he and his military will pay a heavy price.”

The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, added on Twitter: “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.”

In April, the U.S. attacked an airbase in Syria that was used by planes that dropped chemical weapons on the town of Khan Sheikhoun.

The attack on the rebel-held town in the province of Idlib killed more than 80 people and led to widespread international outrage.

The attack “choked out the lives of helpless men, women and children,” Trump said. “It was a slow and brutal death for so many. Even beautiful babies were cruelly murdered.”

Damascus denied accusations it was behind the chemical attack.

The US missile strike was considered the first deliberate US attack on Syrian state forces under President Trump.