Syria, Iran, Russia Push Back Against US Warning
Syria says it isn't planning to use chemical weapons, which it says it doesn't have
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 27, 2017 1:23 PM CDT
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Syrian President Bashar Assad inspects the Russian Hmeimim air base in Syria on Tuesday.   (Syrian Presidency via Facebook)

(Newser) – Late Monday, the White House took the unusual step of issuing a preemptive warning against Syria, which it claims is preparing to launch a chemical weapons attack. The Wall Street Journal reports the Trump administration is basing that assertion on evidence from the same air base that the US hit with cruise missiles in April following Syria's last chemical weapons attack. A Pentagon spokesperson says evidence at the Shayrat air base of a pending chemical weapons attack has become "more compelling" in the past 24 hours. Here's what else you need to know:

  • The Syrian minister for national reconciliation says the Syrian government has no plans to use chemical weapons, which it says it doesn't have anyway, and accuses the US of trying to start a "diplomatic battle" against Syria at the UN, the New York Times reports.
  • Syria wasn't alone in denying the Trump administration's accusations. According to Reuters, Russia says the US claims are both wrong and "unacceptable."
  • And Iran's foreign minister says the White House's warning is a "dangerous escalation" based on a "fake pretext" that will only help the Islamic State, the AP reports.
  • The New Republic argues the US could be "stumbling into a deeper war in Syria." With ISIS nearly defeated in the country, the forces that have been fighting against it will soon turn their attention to fighting for power.
  • Jim Mattis says that won't be happening, Stars and Stripes reports. The secretary of defense says the US will "avoid mission creep" by making sure it stays focused and keeps "moving against ISIS."
  • Citing an inside source, the Daily Beast reports Secretary of State Rex Tillerson issued his own warning to Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov hours before the White House issued its statement. It also reports President Trump was minimally involved with the decision to issue the warning, though both Jared Kushner and Steve Bannon were consulted.
  • Finally, AFP tweets that French President Emmanuel Macron will join Trump in a "joint response" if Syria carries out another chemical weapons attack.

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