BEIRUT â The Latest on the White House saying it has âpotentialâ evidence that Syriaâs government is preparing another chemical weapons attack (all times local):
Syrian military media has published a video of President Bashar Assad inspecting the Russian Hmeimim air base in western Syria and climbing into the cockpit of a Russian SU-35 fighter jet.
The military media outlet says Assad was accompanied by the Russian Armyâs Chief of Staff, Gen. Valery Gerasimov, to inspect the base near the coastal city of Latakia.
Russiaâs air intervention from September 2015 against rebels pushed the Syrian civil war decisively in Assadâs favor.
Photos posted by the military media showed a Russian helicopter and armored trucks on base.
The president wore a business suit and was accompanied by Russian staff in military uniform.
Iranâs foreign minister has denounced as a âdangerous escalationâ the White House allegations that Syria is preparing a new chemical weapons attack.
Mohammad Javad Zarif wrote on his twitter account on Tuesday that the warning is based on a âfake pretextâ and added that it âwill only serve ISIS, precisely when itâs being wiped out by Iraqi & Syrian people.â
ISIS is an alternative acronym for the Islamic State group.
Zarifâs remarks follow Mondayâs White House warning that Syrian President Bashar Assad and his military would âpay a heavy priceâ if they go ahead with the attack.
Iran is Assadâs key regional backer in his fight against his opponents since the Syrian crisis began in 2011.
The Pentagon says the U.S. has seen chemical weapons activity at a Syrian air base that was used for an April sarin gas attack.
Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, said Tuesday the activity at the Shayrat air base indicates âactive preparations for chemical weapons use.â
The U.S. accused Syrian forces of launching a chemical attack from the base in April that killed dozens of civilians. In response, President Donald Trump ordered the military to fire about 60 cruise missiles at the base.
The White House warned late Monday that Syrian President Bashar Assad and his military would pay a âheavy priceâ for another chemical weapons attack. Assadâs government and his allies deny the allegation.
The U.S. military says it will assess allegations that a coalition airstrike may have killed over 40 prisoners held in an Islamic State-run jail in eastern Syria.
Central Command confirmed to the AP on Tuesday that it struck IS facilities in the town of al-Mayadeen in the province of Deir El-Zour the day before.
Syrian activists reported an IS jail was struck in the area on Monday, and said at least 42 prisoners were killed, along with several IS fighters.
CENTCOM said it would publish the results of its assessment in its monthly civilian casualty report.
It said the Mayadeen mission was âmeticulously planned and executed to reduce the risk… to non-combatants.â
The Kremlin is dismissing the White Houseâs warning that the Syrian government is preparing a new chemical attack and that President Bashar Assad and his military âwill pay a heavy priceâ if it goes ahead.
Russian President Vladimir Putinâs spokesman Dmitry Peskov says that âsuch threats to Syriaâs legitimate leaders are unacceptable.â
Russia is Assadâs key backer and sided with him when he denied responsibility for a chemical weapons attack that killed dozens of people in Idlib province on April 4.
Days later, President Donald Trump ordered a retaliatory cruise missile strike on a Syrian government-controlled air base.
Peskov criticized the Trump administration for using the phrase âanother chemical weapons attack,â arguing that an independent investigation into the April attack was never conducted despite Russiaâs calls for one.
Syrian activists say an airstrike targeting an Islamic State-run jail in eastern Syria has killed at least 42 prisoners.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says at least 15 IS jailers and fighters were also killed in the airstrike that happened on Monday in the Deir El-Zour province.
The activist-run Deir Ezzor 24 media outlet says at least 60 civilians were killed. It says the building belonged to an al-Qaida-linked commander before it was seized by the IS group in 2014.
The two groups said the U.S.-led coalition was behind the strike. It was not clear how they identified the aircraft responsible. The coalition could not immediately be reached for comment.
In addition to the coalition, Russia and Syria often carry out airstrikes against IS in eastern Syria.
A Syrian minister has dismissed a White House statement alleging that President Bashar Assadâs government is preparing a new chemical weapons attack, saying Damascus has not and will not use such arms.
Ali Haidar, the minister for national reconciliation, told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the White House statement foreshadowed a âdiplomatic battleâ that would be waged against Syria in the halls of the U.N.
The U.S. holds Assadâs government responsible for two sarin gas attacks that together killed hundreds of civilians in 2013 and earlier this year.
The White House statement on Monday night was made without forewarning and caught State Department officials by surprise.
The White House has issued a stern warning to Syrian President Bashar Assad, claiming âpotentialâ evidence that Syria was preparing for another chemical weapons attack.
In an ominous statement issued late Monday with no supporting evidence or further explanation, Press Secretary Sean Spicer said the U.S. had âidentified potential preparations for another chemical weapons attack by the Assad regime that would likely result in the mass murder of civilians, including innocent children.â
He said the activities were similar to preparations taken before an April 2017 attack that killed dozens of men, women and children, and warned that if âMr. Assad conducts another mass murder attack using chemical weapons, he and his military will pay a heavy price.â
The White House offered no details on what prompted the warning.
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