White House Says Relevant US Agencies Involved in Syria Chemical Weapons Claim
All relevant US government agencies participated in the assessment of the situation in Syria prior to White House's announcement that there may be potentially new chemical attacks in that country, a White House official said on Tuesday.
WASHINGTON (Sputnik) – Earlier in the day, the White House claimed that Washington had identified "potential preparations" for a chemical attack by Syrian President Bashar Assad's forces.
The Kremlin commented on the claims and said that it considers US' threats against Syrian legitimate leadership to be "unacceptable." Damascus also denied the information.
"In response to several inquiries regarding the Syria statement issued last night, we want to clarify that all relevant agencies-including State, DoD [Department of Defense], CIA and ODNI [Office of the Director of National Intelligence] – were involved in the process from the beginning," the official stated as quoted by the pool.
Some media reports indicated the White House announcement was not coordinated with relevant agencies, and moreover, the US-led coalition fighting Daesh and the Defense Department were not informed about the upcoming release and the intelligence the announcement was based on.
On April 4, the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces supported by the United States blamed the Syrian government for an alleged chemical weapon attack in Khan Sheikhoun in Syria's Idlib province. Reacting to the incident, Washington, which had not presented any proof of the chemical weapons use by Damascus, launched 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at the Syrian governmental military airfield in Ash Sha'irat on April 6.
Damascus has repeatedly denied any involvement in the incident and said that the Syrian government doesn't possess chemical weapons as the full destruction of Damascus' chemical weapons stockpile had been confirmed by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in January 2016.
In an interview with Sputnik on April 21, Assad characterized the alleged chemical attack in Khan Sheikhoun as a provocation to justify the US strike on Ash Sha'irat. The Syrian leader also warned of the possibility of the new provocations similar to the one in Khan Sheikhoun.
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