White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer released a statement Monday night accusing the Syrian government of potentially engaging in preparations for another chemical weapons attack. While the statement offered minimal details, it argued that a future attack “would likely result in the mass murder of civilians, including innocent children.” On April 4, a government-led chemical attack in Syria’s northwestern Idlib province resulted in the deaths of more than 80 civilians. According to Spicer, the Syrian government’s latest preparations closely resemble those carried out prior to April 4.
If indeed enacted, a new chemical weapons attack could have reverberating consequences throughout the international community. In response to April’s attack, the U.S. launched 59 tomahawk missiles at a Syrian air base—the nation’s first military operation against an Arab government since President Obama’s intervention in Libya in 2011. At the time, the administration referred to the strike as a “one-off” occurrence intended to deter future chemical attacks. But, in the wake of the operation, administration officials reported that President Trump had been deeply troubled by graphic images of Syrian children struggling to breathe. “No child of God should ever suffer such horror,” Trump said while announcing the strike.