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Assad’s forces appears to have called off chemical attack after US warning

Assad’s forces appears to have called off chemical attack after US warningUS defence secretary James Mattis has said that Syria appears to have heeded a warning from Washington not to carry out a chemical weapons attack.

This is reported by The Guardian.

The White House said on Monday it appeared the Syrian military was preparing to conduct a chemical weapons attack and said that Assad and his forces would “pay a heavy price” if it did so.

The warning was based on intelligence that indicated preparations for such a strike were under way at Syria’s Shayrat airfield, US officials said.

“It appears that they took the warning seriously,” Mattis said. “They didn’t do it,” he told reporters flying with him to Brussels for a meeting of Nato defence ministers.

He offered no evidence other than the fact that an attack had not taken place.

Asked whether he believed Assad’s forces had called off any such strike completely, Mattis said: “I think you better ask Assad about that.“

The intelligence that prompted the administration’s warning was “far from conclusive”, said a US official familiar with it. “It did not come close to saying that a chemical weapons attack was coming,” the official said.

Meanwhile Russia, the main backer of President Bashar al-Assad, warned that it would respond proportionately if the US took preemptive measures against Syrian forces.
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