US Warns Russia, Syria Against Chemical Weapons Use

FILE PHOTO -- Syrian army soldier stands at a check-point as Russian military police vehicle, right, passes by near the village of Almajdiyeh, Syria, Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2018.  (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
FILE PHOTO -- Syrian army soldier stands at a check-point as Russian military police vehicle, right, passes by near the village of Almajdiyeh, Syria, Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2018. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

WASHINGTON — Senior U.S. officials are warning the Russian and Syrian governments against chemical weapons use in Syria as forces allied with its President Bashar Assad prepare for an offensive on a rebel stronghold.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert says the United States "will respond to any verified chemical weapons use in Idlib or elsewhere in Syria ... in a swift and appropriate manner."

Speaking to reporters in Washington Tuesday, Nauert said senior U.S. officials engaged with their Russian counterparts to "encourage Russia to make this point very clear to Damascus."

The Syrian government is gearing up for an expected offensive in Idlib province, which is home to nearly 3 million people and has a large al-Qaida presence in addition to Syrian rebel groups.

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