By Lucas Tomlinson
The Pentagon is seeing new “activity” at a known aircraft hanger long associated with chemical weapons at the Shayrat Air Base in Syria outside the city of Homs, according to multiple defense officials—the same Assad regime base the U.S. military struck with 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles in early April.
It’s not immediately clear what specific activity at the Syrian base prompted the White House statement.
American officials at the US-led coalition headquarters in Baghdad tell Fox News they stand behind firmly behind the White House statement warning the Syrian government against another chemical weapons attack (statement below).
Should President Trump decide to go beyond warning Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, there is plenty of firepower in the region.
The USS George HW Bush aircraft carrier strike group is operating in the Mediterranean Sea striking ISIS in Syria. Along with the carrier’s dozens of strike aircraft, there are numerous guided-missile destroyers capable of launching Tomahawk cruise missile similar to the strike in Syria from warships in early April.
Last week, a U.S. Navy F-18 Super Hornet launched from Bush shot down a Syrian warplane, the first time the United States military has shot down a jet in air-to-air combat in 18 years. The U.S. jet first fired a short-range sidewinder missile, but missed when the Syrian jet launched flares and took evasive action—but the American pilot did not miss a second time after firing a medium-range air-to-air missile called an Aim-120 Amraam, according to U.S. officials.
Since late May, there have been five U.S. attacks on pro-Assad forces in Syria, including Iranian-backed forces such as Hezbollah near a U.S. coalition training base in southern Syria.
Justifying the April attack on the Syrian base, senior U.S. military officials said at the time there was evidence the regime launched the deadly chemical weapons attack in northern Syria from the Shayrat Air Base where the Pentagon is once again seeing activity. At least 80 people, including women and children were killed in the town of Khan Sheikhoun by a lone Syrian jet according to officials.