Mattis says: "I believe there was a chemical attack in Syria"
Mattis says: "I believe there was a chemical attack in Syria"
Having second thoughts? Mattis says US 'still assessing intelligence' on alleged Syria attack
13 April, 2018, 01:40
US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told lawmakers in Congress that the US military does not have evidence that either chlorine or sarin were used in an alleged chemical attack in the Syrian town of Douma, adding that the Pentagon's only proof that such an incident occurred has come from social media and media reports.
Trump earlier this week suggested that an attack was imminent.
Authorities say a Bulgarian man has been arrested for conspiring to defraud the US and illegally exporting aircraft parts and equipment to Syria.
"They can only say that they found evidence or did not, and as each day goes by - as you know, it's a non-persistent gas, so it becomes more and more hard to confirm it", Mattis said. Mattis stopped short of detailing any plans by the United States or its allies to respond to Syria's April 7 chemical weapons attack, even as Trump on Wednesday warned Russian Federation through Twitter to "get ready" for the USA attack on Syria.
"We're trying to stop the murder of innocent people".
But Mattis added that even if the investigative team is allowed by the Bashar al-Assad regime to get to the site, "we will not know who did it - they can only say they found evidence or they did not".
Still, he said the attack was "inexcusable, beyond the pale, and in the worst interest of not just the chemical weapons convention, but civilization itself".
Meanwhile, Russian ambassador to the U.N. Vitaly Churkin said Russia does not rule out the possibility of a conflict with the US, adding that the main priority is averting war in Syria. "So, I can not tell you that we have evidence, even though we have a lot of media and social media indicators that either chlorine or sarin was used".
"We're still assessing the intelligence ourselves, and our allies".
"This is a complex area, I'll be the first to admit it", Mattis said.
Mattis then took a shot at the Obama administration for, as it attempted to remove chemical weapons from Syria, enlisting help from the Russians, who Mattis said are now "complicit" in helping the Assad regime retain the weapons.
Mattis was referring to worldwide investigating teams from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).
"France will not allow any escalation that could harm the stability of the region as a whole but we can't let regimes that think they can do everything they want, including the worst things that violate global law, to act", Macron said. "We're still working on this", he reiterated.
Last week, Trump said he wanted to pull out of the war-torn nation, but this week he has taunted Assad ally Russian Federation with boasts of an impending missile strike.
Several lawmakers grilled the Pentagon chief on the legal authorities the military has for action in Syria beyond the remit of its current mission, which is to work to destroy the Daesh.
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