President Trump's public warning to the Assad regime over their potential use of chemical weapons was met with some confusion last week, especially from the intelligence community. Trump made the threat on Monday night which officials said was meant to deter the Syrian government from using those weapons as they had been accused of doing so in early April. At the time, no reports were showing that the Syrian government was about to use chemical weapons which Trump surrogates credit the administration from preventing.

White House intelligence on chemical weapon claims

After a reported chemical attack in April, President Trump authorized an attack on a Syrian airbase with 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles which was a show of force against the regime. The attack was applauded by many in Washington and the media and compared to the former Obama administration which has often been blamed for not acting during a reported chemical attack in 2013. On Tuesday, government officials learned how closely the White House had kept the intelligence claims that the Assad regime was going to use chemical weapons.

Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a spokesman for the Pentagon, told reporters at the time that they had intel showing the Syrian military moving an SU-22 aircraft to the same al-Shayrat airfield that the U.S.

military had targeted back in April. The airport sustained some damage from that attack but not enough to prevent it from being operational.

When President Trump was asked about why the military hadn't attacked the airstrip to prevent planes that could deliver chemical strikes from taking off, he said that cratering the strip would have been repaired anyway.

Trump aides credit the President

It was reported that the Syrian regime was still able to target civilians from the airfield with conventional weapons within 24-hours of the cruise missile strike. The mentioned SU-22 plane is said to what the Assad regime uses to launch their chemical attacks.

Officials also claimed to have intercepted communication that also described their intent.

Following the threat, on Thursday of the same week, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) released a report which confirmed that sarin had been used on civilians in the Idlib province killing 80 people back in April.

The OPCW is a watchdog group which monitors the international chemical weapons treaty, but their report does not blame any one group for the use of chemical weapons. In any case, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, used the report to blame the Syrian government saying that it confirmed what they already knew.

Assad denied that they were preparing to use those weapons and have gotten the support of the Russian government who have also blamed the United States of planting chemical weapons in Syria. Haley credited the Trump administration for preventing another attack.