The United States’ top military official said Saturday that he and President Donald Trump have “routine dialogue” about possible military consequences if the Syrian regime uses chemical weapons during its upcoming assault on Idlib.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford told reporters in New Delhi that no final decision had been made as yet, Reuters reported.
“But we are in a dialogue, a routine dialogue, with the president to make sure he knows where we are with regard to planning in the event that chemical weapons are used,” said Dunford.
Reuters reports he later added: “He expects us to have military options and we have provided updates to him on the development of those military options.”
The United States warned Syria Tuesday it will respond “swiftly and appropriately” if it uses chemical weapons against its people.
“Let us be clear, it remains our firm stance that if President Bashar Assad chooses to again use chemical weapons, the United States and its allies will respond swiftly and appropriately,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement.
The White House was “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,” Sanders said.
“President Donald J. Trump has warned that such an attack would be a reckless escalation of an already tragic conflict and would risk the lives of hundreds of thousands of people,” she added.
Earlier Tuesday, the Kremlin criticized Trump for warning against an expected Syrian government offensive on the opposition’s last stronghold.
Trump on Monday sent a tweet warning the Syrian government and its allies against a “reckless attack” on the rebel-held Idlib province.
Russia says jihadists in Idlib target its own facilities in Syria and pose a terrorist threat.
Some three million people live in the northwest region, which came under renewed air strikes and bombings earlier this week.
The United Nations has said the assault poses the threat of a humanitarian disaster. The Syrian peace envoy Staffan de Mistura on Friday proposed a plan for al-Qaeda-linked fighters in Idlib to pull back from civilian areas to avert a bloodbath in the rebel-held province.