- REUTERS/Ammar Abdullah
Several military officials were caught off guard by a White House statement Monday night that said Syria was suspected of planning a new chemical attack, The New York Times reported on Monday.
The statement issued by the White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, said Syria’s military would “pay a heavy price” if it launched a new chemical attack.
The apparent lack of communication among military channels appeared to be corroborated by a BuzzFeed News report that cited five defense officials who said they did not know of the details regarding a potential chemical attack and were not aware of the White House’s plans to release a statement.
The White House disputed this characterization in a statement on Tuesday morning.
“In response to several inquiries regarding the Syria statement issued last night, we want to clarify that all relevant agencies,” including the State Department, the Defense Department, the CIA, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, “were involved in the process from the beginning,” a White House official said in a statement. “Anonymous leaks to the contrary are false.”
Shortly after the White House statement was released on Monday night, Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the United Nations, said 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, President Donald Trump authorized the launch of 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles on a Syrian airfield from which the US said a chemical weapons attack originated that killed scores of civilians.
Though the US strike temporarily disabled several air assets in the area, Syrian forces quickly began redistributing jets back to the airfield.