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

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

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“Any offensive is to us objectionable as a reckless escalation,” Jeffrey, who was named Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoThe Hill's Morning Report — Presented by the American Academy of HIV Medicine — Trump, Congress prepare for new border wall fight Overnight Defense: Trump to sign funding deal, declare national emergency | Shanahan says allies will be consulted on Afghanistan | Dem demands Khashoggi documents Senate confirms Trump pick William Barr as new attorney general 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.