Bolton cautions Syria against using chemical weapons amid plan to pull US troops: reports
Following the decision to pull U.S. troops out of Syria, National Security Adviser John Bolton reportedly expressed caution to the Syrian government on Saturday that the drawdown should not be perceived as an opening for chemical weapons usage. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen/File)
Following the decision to pull U.S. troops out of Syria, National Security Adviser John Bolton reportedly cautioned the Syrian government not to see the drawdown as an opening to use chemical weapons.
Bolton was on his way to Israel when he said there was “absolutely no change” in the U.S.’s stance on the matter of chemical weapons, according to The Wall Street Journal.
“As we elaborate how the withdrawal is going to occur and the circumstances, we don’t want the Assad regime to see what we do as representing any diminution in our opposition to the use of weapons of mass destruction,” Bolton said, adding that “the Assad regime should be under no illusion.” His comments referred to Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad.
Bolton said that any such use “will be met by very strong response,” according to the report.
“We've tried twice through the use of military force to demonstrate to the Assad regime the use of chemical weapons is not acceptable,” the official said, The Associated Press reported. “And if they don't heed the lessons of those two strikes, the next one will be more telling.”
President Trump has twice carried out airstrikes in Syria in response to alleged chemical attacks.
In December, he announced the plan to pull American troops out of Syria. He also declared on Twitter that the U.S. had “defeated ISIS in Syria.”
Trump also discussed the maneuver during a trip to Iraq last month, saying that it's because of U.S. military gains against the Islamic State (ISIS) terror group that he could withdraw the roughly 2,000 forces.
Bolton’s trip to Israel is aimed at calming that ally's concerns regarding the Syria troop pullout, AP said.
Fox News’ Travis Fedschun, Frank Miles and The Associated Press contributed to this report.