WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House said on Monday it appears the Syrian government is preparing for another chemical weapons attack and it warned Syrian President Bashar al-Assad he and his military would "pay a heavy price" if it conducts such an attack.
The White House statement said preparations by Syria were similar to those undertaken before an April 4 chemical attack that killed dozens of civilians and prompted President Donald Trump to order a cruise missile strike on a Syrian air base.
Trump ordered the strike on the Shayrat airfield in Syria in April in reaction to what Washington said was a poison gas attack by Assad's government that killed at least 70 people in rebel-held territory. Syria denied it carried out the attack.
The strike put Washington in confrontation with Russia, which has advisers in Syria aiding its close ally Assad.
U.S. officials at the time called the intervention a "one-off" intended to deter future chemical weapons attacks and not an expansion of the U.S. role in the Syrian war.
(Reporting by Eric Beech; Writing by Yara Bayoumy; Editing by Sandra Maler and Paul Tait)