US envoy: There's evidence Syrian government preparing chemical weapons in Idlib

US envoy: There's evidence Syrian government preparing chemical weapons in Idlib
© Getty

The U.S. envoy for Syria on Thursday said there is "lots of evidence" the Syrian government is preparing chemical weapons in Idlib province. 

Jim Jeffrey said any attack by Syrian or Russian forces in the region would be a "reckless escalation," according to Reuters

ADVERTISEMENT

“Any offensive is to us objectionable as a reckless escalation,” Jeffrey, who was named Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoOvernight Defense: Trump identifies first soldier remains from North Korea | New cyber strategy lets US go on offense | Army chief downplays talk of 'Fort Trump' Pompeo backed continued US support in Yemen war over objections from staff: report Pompeo’s staff cracks down on ‘correct use of commas’ at State Dept MORE's special adviser on Syria last month, told reporters. “There is lots of evidence that chemical weapons are being prepared.”

"I am very sure that we have very, very good grounds to be making these warnings," he added.

Washington has issued several warnings this week urging Syria and Russia against attacking the last major rebel enclave, which Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad's government claims contains ISIS militants.

The U.S. on Thursday issued new sanctions on allies of Assad, referring to the regime's "threat of imminent attack ... under the pretense of targeting ISIS."  

The Trump administration on Tuesday warned Assad against using chemical weapons on his citizens.

“The United States is closely monitoring the situation in Idlib province, Syria, where millions of innocent civilians are under threat of an imminent Assad regime attack, backed by Russia and Iran,” the White House said in a statement on Tuesday.

The White House also called the widely-expected attack a "reckless escalation."

Russian planes struck Idlib with dozens of airstrikes on Tuesday. The strikes were accompanied with Assad regime artillery and killed at least 17 civilians, including five children, The Wall Street Journal reported.