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Pompeo: We’re not ruling anything out in response to possible chemical attack in Syria

Anna Moneymaker

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned Sunday that the U.S. would hold the responsible party accountable if chemical weapons are used in Syria, and did not rule out the use of military force.

“We’ll have to analyze once the activity takes place. We pray that it doesn’t. But we’ll do our intelligence, our forensics,” Pompeo said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

“We’ll do our hard work,” he continued. “And we will hold accountable those that are responsible for violating this fundamental principle, this idea that chemical weapons are fundamentally different than other types of weapon systems.”

{mosads}Asked if that included the possible use of military force, Pompeo said the administration isn’t ruling out “a single thing.”

Pompeo disputed that the U.S. would be hesitant to respond if Russia, which backs Syrian President Bashar Assad, were involved in an attack. He noted that the Trump administration expelled diplomats after it determined Moscow was behind the poisoning of ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripal.     

“The president is deadly serious to make sure that chemical weapons don’t become the norm in the way nations act around the world,” Pompeo said.

Assad has been accused on multiple occasions of using chemical weapons on civilians and rebel forces throughout the ongoing civil war in Syria.

U.S. military leaders and diplomats have raised concerns that the Syrian leader may be preparing another chemical attack in the rebel-held Idlib province.

The Trump administration has already launched retaliatory strikes, including one carried out in conjunction with British and French forces, against Syria in response to chemical attacks that killed civilians.     

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley added in an interview with CBS’s “Face the Nation” that while she doesn’t expect Assad to give up power in the immediate future, it’s “hard to imagine a Syria” where he remains in power long-term.

“There’s no way that the Syrian people are going to allow it,” she said. “There’s no way that the Iranians — the Russians — anybody else thinks that having him there is a good thing and so I think it’s a matter of time before he’s gone.”

Updated at 10:36 a.m.

Tags Mike Pompeo Nikki Haley

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