A senior Iranian official called on the Trump administration to avoid taking any further military action against the Syrian government and its allies and threatened that any such move would not go unanswered. “Without doubt, America’s unwise and adventurous actions in Syria are tantamount to playing with fire,” said Ali Shamkhani, the secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC). He claimed the White House falsely accuses the Syrian government of conducting chemical attacks in order to “mask the defeat of the terrorism front and counteract the decisive advances by Syrian Army.” Shamkhani, who is also an advisor to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, criticized the U.S. missile strikes in Syria in April and added that Washington did not accept a request by Iran and Russia to assign a fact-finding commission to investigate the alleged use of chemical weapons by Damascus. “If the American government is sincere about its claims, it should provide the relevant information to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (O.P.C.W.) so that it can be independently examined with the cooperation of the Syrian government,” he said.
Separately, Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Ghassemi also cautioned that any unilateral U.S. military action in Syria will have negative repercussions. “As the Syrian government has been fighting against terrorist groups for more than six years…, raising such baseless claims and taking actions that would do nothing but to strengthen the position of terrorist groups and complex combating them is very questionable and suspicious,” he said.
Comment: Just a day after Shamkhani called on Washington to let O.P.C.W. investigate any allegations regarding the use of chemical weapons by the regime of Bashar al-Assad, the Netherlands-based intergovernmental organization’s Fact Finding Mission (F.M.M.) issued a report on Thursday confirming that sarin or sarin-like chemical weapon was used on April 4 attack in Syria’s Khan Shaykhun. The O.P.C.W. and U.N. Joint Investigative Mechanism (J.I.M.) will soon assess the report to determine who was responsible for the attack. A U.S. State Department statement said it strongly supports the F.F.M. and J.I.M. efforts, and added that “the facts reflect a despicable and highly dangerous record of chemical weapons use by the Assad regime.”
Shamkhani’s remarks came after the White House warned that there were "potential preparations for another chemical weapons attack" by the Syrian regime and warned that President Bashar Assad would pay a “heavy price” if he carried it out. U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations went a step further and stressed that Assad’s foreign allies Iran and Russia will also be held accountable. And on Wednesday, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis claimed the warning succeeded in stopping a chemical weapons attack by the Syrian Army. “They didn’t do it,” he told reporters.