27 Jun 2017

US issues stark warning to Syrian govt

3:20 pm on 27 June 2017

The US says it has identified "potential preparations" for another chemical attack in Syria, and has issued a stark warning to the Syrian government.

 A US official said 59 precision guided missiles hit Shayrat Airfield in Syria, where Washington believes Tuesday's deadly attack was launched. April 6, 2017.

President Donald Trump ordered a strike against a Syrian air base after a suspected chemical attack in April. Photo: AFP

The White House said the activities were similar to those made before a suspected chemical attack in April.

Dozens died in that attack and prompted President Donald Trump to order a strike against a Syrian air base.

The US statement warned President Bashar al-Assad of "a heavy price" if another strike occurred.

It said "another chemical weapons attack by the Assad regime" was likely to result "in the mass murder of civilians".

It added: "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."

President Assad has denied his forces were behind the suspected nerve gas attack in the town of Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib province, in April.

Dozens of civilians, including many children, died.

In response, US Navy ships in the Mediterranean fired 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at Shayrat airfield, in western Homs province, which it said was used to store chemical weapons.

The latest development comes amid increasing tension in the region between the US and President Assad's ally, Russia.

The Kremlin recently warned the US-led coalition that it would view its aircraft as targets after the US shot down a Syrian military plane.

- BBC

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