The Trump administration on Tuesday rejected reports that officials at the State Department, Pentagon and CIA were caught off-guard by a White House statement issued late Monday evening about newly-detected Syrian movements.
A White House official said those agencies were informed about the White House statement beforehand.
"In response to several inquiries regarding the Syria statement issued last night, we want to clarify that all relevant agencies — including State, [Department of Defense], CIA and [Office of the Director of National Intelligence] — were involved in the process from the beginning," the official said. "Anonymous leaks to the contrary are false."
White House press secretary Sean Spicer's office issued the Monday statement, which warned the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad against conducting a chemical attack on its citizens.
"The United States has identified potential preparations for another chemical weapons attack by the Assad regime that would likely result in the mass murder of civilians, including innocent children. The activities are similar to preparations the regime made before its April 4, 2017 chemical weapons attack," Spicer said in his statement on Monday.
President Trump ordered a targeted missile strike on a Syrian airbase in response to the early April chemical attack Assad launched on civilians. The strike drew bipartisan praise as a necessary step against the brutality of the Assad regime and as a warning to his backers in Russia and Iran.
"As we have previously stated, the United States is in Syria to eliminate the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria," Spicer noted in the statement Monday. "If, however, Mr. Assad conducts another mass murder attack using chemical weapons, he and his military will pay a heavy price."