Pence: US prepared to respond to possible retaliation by Syria or allies

Pence: US prepared to respond to possible retaliation by Syria or allies
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Vice President Pence said on Saturday that the Trump administration stands ready to respond to any potential retaliatory measures by Syria or its allies, including Russia and Iran, after the U.S., France and the United Kingdom launched military strikes on the country.

Speaking to reporters in Lima, Peru, Pence said President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump warns Iran's Rouhani: Threaten us 'and you will suffer' Pompeo: Iran's leaders resemble the mafia NYT's Haberman: Trump 'often tells the truth' MORE and his advisers weighed the possibility of a military response from Syria, Russia or Iran in the days leading up to the U.S.-led strike on Friday night.

"The United States is ready to respond, to defend our forces," Pence said. "And to be clear, the U.S. is also ready to take additional action in a sustained way to ensure that Syria understands that there will be a price to pay if they ever use chemical weapons again."

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The vice president's comments came a day after the U.S., in concert with the U.K. and France, conducted "precision strikes" on three targets in Syria associated with the country's chemical weapons arsenal. 

U.S. officials have emphasized that the allied attack on Syria was not intended to provoke or punish the Syrian government, but rather sought to target the country's chemical arsenal specifically to prevent future use. The allied strike on Friday was prompted by a suspected chemical attack in a suburb of Damascus last week that left dozens dead.

"We believe that it has significantly eroded and crippled the ability of the regime to produce chemicals," Pence said.

Pence echoed Trump in his remarks on Saturday in saying that the U.S. is prepared to carry out "sustained" action against Syria's chemical weapons program unless the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad ceased its use of chemical munitions.

The allied attack on Syria drew immediate condemnation from Syria and its allies, Russia and Iran, who accused the U.S., France and Britain of violating international law and blatantly violating Syria's sovereignty. 

But Pence, who is attending the Summit of the Americas in Peru, emphasized that the U.S. did not act alone. He said that other leaders at the gathering had both publicly and privately expressed support for the allied strikes on Syria.

The U.N. Security Council rejected on Saturday a resolution introduced by Russia condemning the Friday-night operation in Syria.