The White House on Monday said U.S. intelligence observed potential preparations similar to those in the run-up to a deadly chemical attack on the opposition-held town of Khan Sheikhoun in April that the U.S. blamed on Assad's forces. In April, Trump ordered nearly 60 cruise missiles to be fired at the Shayrat base after accusing Syria of killing dozens of civilians in a sarin gas attack.
Galloway called past use of chemical weapons by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime "a clear threat to regional stability", and said the mere presence of chemical weapons in Syria raises concerns for the US because they could fall into the hands of terrorist groups operating there. Going forward, will the USA put out a statement every time it suspects chemical weapons attacks? Iran provides Assad with troops while Russian Federation provides air support in his war against rebels and IS extremists.
"I am not paid to have confidence in this sort of thing", Mattis said.
"We are here to protect the United States and its citizens to make sure that weapons of mass destruction are not used against civilians or do not spread into the hands of non-state actors".
Mattis stressed the American military was not going to get drawn into the Syrian civil war, but noted that "if somebody comes after us, bombs us or takes a heading on us or fires on us, then under legitimate self-defense, we'll do whatever we have to do to stop it". To be fair to Tillerson, it's likely he didn't know about it in the first place at the time, as the White House appears to have manufactured the entire statement with little to know contact with the rest of the government.
Yesterday the White House warned President Bashar al-Assad that if he goes through with it, quote, "he and his military will pay a heavy price". "That means we Germans need to do more for our security", she said.
The statement, which came with little explanation, was a warning shot to both Assad and the Russian leaders who are backing his regime.
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Asked if Russia had warned the U.S. administration against any unilateral action in Syria, Russia's deputy foreign minister, Gennady Gatilov, replied that Russian officials have "always spoken about that, including in relation to their [US] latest strikes on Syrian armed forces".
US officials say Assad never fulfilled the demand of Obama's deal with Russian Federation, keeping control of some stockpiles.
The U.S. has demonstrated its willingness to carry out strikes against the Syrian regime and its allied forces, including Iran, over the past three months.
Both Syria and Russian Federation blasted the most recent White House statement, with a Syrian minister suggesting the USA was trying to gain leverage before a new United Nations diplomatic offensive and with Russian Federation calling the threat "unacceptable".
The French foreign ministry refused to say on Tuesday whether it too had information about possible preparations by the Syrian regime for a chemical attack.
Hours later, the Pentagon said it had detected activity by the Syrian authorities in preparation for the attack.
"I can tell you that due the president's actions, we did not see an incident", Haley said at a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing.
Ali Haidar, the minister for national reconciliation, told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the White House statement foreshadowed a "diplomatic battle" that would be waged against Syria in the halls of the United Nations.