The Obama administration had advanced warning of possible chemical attacks by the Assad regime in the last year but was able to forestall such an outcome through diplomatic efforts.
That's according to senior administration officials on Friday, speaking to reporters after the U.S. released evidence of a chemical-weapons attack last week in the Damascus suburbs. One official said when an attack was imminent, the U.S. deployed either direct messaging to the Assad regime or conducted public diplomacy, which included speeches from President Obama.
"At various junctures over the last year, when we saw particularly concerning things, we were able to demarche diplomatically a variety of different countries so that the Syrian government would get the message that the use of chemical weapons violated a fundamental international norm," the senior administration official said. "That includes, by the way, direct messaging to the Syrian government as well."
But this opens up questions about the latest attack. In its paper presenting evidence that the Assad regime was in fact responsible for the attack, the administration cited information outlining the different preparations that went into the alleged attack.