The following is an excerpt from CONOR FINNEGAN & ELIZABETH MCLAUGHLIN | September 4, 2018 | abcnews.go.com |
The White House is doubling down on its warning to the Syrian regime not to use chemical weapons ahead of an expected assault on Idlib province in northwest Syria, saying the U.S. will respond "swiftly and appropriately."
It's the strongest warning yet as the U.S. tries to assert a greater role in Syria and prevent what it says would be a humanitarian disaster, even as Syria and its allies, including Russia, prepare for an offensive into the heavily populated province. But the threat of retaliation extends only to the potential use of chemical weapons, with critics charging that the U.S. has done nothing to stop Assad's march on rebel enclaves elsewhere in the country.
In a statement on Tuesday, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said the U.S. was "closely monitoring the situation in Idlib province, Syria, where millions of innocent civilians are under threat of an imminent Assad regime attack, backed by Russia and Iran."
In particular, Sanders warned that "If [Syrian] President Bashar al-Assad chooses to again use chemical weapons, the United States and its Allies will respond swiftly and appropriately," after the Trump administration has twice ordered airstrikes on Assad regime targets following its use of chemical weapons.
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