Military officials reportedly caught off guard by White House’s warning to Syria

Several military officials were reportedly caught off guard by the White House’s statement Monday night that indicated “potential preparations” for a new chemical attack by Syria, The New York Times reported.

The statement issued by White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer warned Syria’s military would “pay a heavy price” if it launched a new chemical attack.

The reported lack of communication between military channels also appeared to be corroborated by a BuzzFeed News report that cited five defence 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.

“We are letting the statement speak for itself,” said National Security Council spokesman Marc Raimondi, according to BuzzFeed.

Shortly after the White House statement was released, 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 authorised the launch of 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles on Syria’s Shayrat airfield, in response to a chemical weapons attack that killed scores of civilians.

The chemical weapons attack was alleged to have been orchestrated from the airfield. Although the US strike temporarily disabled several air assets in the area, Syrian forces began redistributing jets back to the airfield.

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