The US has announced a new policy on chemical weapons, including its plan to “expand our ability to respond to chemical attacks and to prevent further attacks.”
The US also said it would strengthen its response to chemical weapons attacks, including “increased monitoring of chemical munitions.”
The White House also said the United States will be stepping up its efforts to help other countries defend themselves from chemical weapons.
“In order to defeat chemical weapons and other attacks against civilians, the United State will expand its ability to conduct targeted, coordinated air, sea and ground air attacks,” the White House said in a statement.
“We will also work with our allies and partners to expand the number of targeted air and ground attacks in a more robust manner to make it harder for terrorists to use chemical weapons.”
The policy also included a warning to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who has repeatedly denied using chemical weapons against his own people, that if he continues to use these weapons, the US will take action.
“The United States is prepared to use the full range of capabilities at our disposal to respond and stop the use of chemical weapons,” the statement said.
“This includes military force, including the use in Syria of conventional forces and cyber-attacks, and we will seek to prevent the use and transfer of such weapons to terrorists and their supporters.”
The announcement came days after Trump signed an executive order that gave the White Houses Defense Security Cooperation Agency the power to take action against Syrian President Assad if it determined that he is committing an act of “war crimes” against his people.
The new policy is likely to intensify the already tense situation in Syria.
Trump said he signed the order as he arrived at the Pentagon for a summit with other world leaders, including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who are visiting the White house to discuss how to end the war in Syria and what the US should do about the Syrian government’s use of poison gas.
The president has been criticized for taking a tough stance on Syria, even after taking office, saying the US would no longer take military action in Syria unless Assad was forced to relinquish chemical weapons under international law.