US 'concerned' about possible Assad operation in southwest Syria

US 'concerned' about possible Assad operation in southwest Syria
© Greg Nash

The Trump administration late Friday voiced concerns about an "impending" operation by Bashar Assad's forces in Syria that it says will fall inside the boundaries of a U.S.-enforced de-escalation zone.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert warned in a statement that the U.S. would respond with "firm and appropriate measures" if Assad's government were to violate the ceasefire in the region, located in the southwestern part of the country.

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"Unfortunately, the Assad regime, with the support of Russia and Iran, has repeatedly violated these de-escalation zones, most recently in its brutal assault on East Ghouta. The Assad regime and its allies continue to prolong the conflict by ignoring their own de-escalation agreements and stonewalling the Geneva process," Nauert said.

She called on Russia to exercise control over the Assad government at the United Nations Security Council, pressing the country to use its "diplomatic and military advantage over the Assad regime to stop attacks and compel the Assad regime to cease further military offensives."

"The United States remains committed to maintaining the stability of the southwest de-escalation zone and to the ceasefire underpinning it," she said.

The Trump administration joined France and Great Britain in striking Syria with missiles last month following a reported chemical attack on civilians in a rebel-held area that the U.S. blamed on the Assad government.

"These are not the actions of a man; they are crimes of a monster instead,” President TrumpDonald John TrumpHouse Republican threatens to push for Rosenstein impeachment unless he testifies Judge suggests Trump’s tweet about Stormy Daniels was ‘hyperbole’ not defamation Rosenstein faces Trump showdown MORE said during a televised address following the chemical attack.

However, Russia — an ally of Assad's government — accused the U.S. of deepening the humanitarian crisis in the region with the strikes.

“With their actions, the U.S. is deepening a humanitarian catastrophe in Syria,” Russian President Vladimir Putin said last month.