US Defense Sec'y Mattis: Syria still has chemical weapons




  • In World
  • 2017-04-21 09:10:55Z
  • By Associated Press

TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) - Syria still possesses chemical weapons, U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said in Israel on Friday, warning against the banned munitions being used again.

At a news conference in Tel Aviv, Mattis also said that in recent days the Syrian Air Force has dispersed its combat aircraft. The implication is that Syria may be concerned about additional U.S. strikes following the cruise missile attack earlier this month in retaliation for alleged Syrian use of sarin gas.

Mattis spoke alongside Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman. "There can be no doubt in the international community's mind that Syria has retained chemical weapons in violation of its agreement and its statement that it had removed them all," said Mattis. He said he didn't want to elaborate on the amounts Syria has in order to avoid revealing sources of intelligence.

"I can say authoritatively they have retained some, it's a violation of the United Nations Security Council resolutions and it's going to have to be taken up diplomatically and they would be ill advised to try to use any again, we made that very clear with our strike," he said.

Israeli defense officials said this week that Syria still has up to three tons of chemical weapons in its possession. It was the first specific intelligence assessment of President Bashar Assad's weapons capabilities since a deadly chemical attack earlier this month.

Lieberman also refused to go into detail but said "We have 100 percent information that Assad regime used chemical weapons against rebels."

Assad has strongly denied he was behind the attack in the opposition-held town of Khan Sheikhoun in Syria's northern Idlib province, and has accused the opposition of trying to frame his government. Top Assad ally, Russia, has asserted a Syrian government airstrike hit a rebel chemical weapons factory, causing the disaster.

In response to the April 4 attack, the United States fired 59 missiles at a Syrian air base it said was the launching pad for the attack.

Before meeting with Mattis in Jerusalem, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told reporters that Israel is encouraged by the change of administrations in Washington.

"We sense a great change in the direction of American policy," Netanyahu said. He referred to the U.S. cruise missile strike in Syria as an important example of the new administration's "forthright deeds" against the use of chemical weapons.

The Syrian government has been locked in a six-year civil war against an array of opposition forces. The fighting has killed an estimated 400,000 people and displaced half of Syria's population.

Israel has largely stayed out of the fighting, though it has carried out a number of airstrikes on suspected Iranian weapons shipments it believed were bound for the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah. Iran and Hezbollah, both bitter enemies of Israel, along with Russia have sent forces to support Assad.

Syria agreed to give up its chemical weapons arsenal to avert U.S. strikes following a chemical weapons attack in opposition-held suburbs of Damascus in August 2013 that killed hundreds of people and sparked worldwide outrage.

Ahead of that disarmament, Assad's government disclosed it had some 1,300 tons of chemical weapons, including sarin, VX nerve agent and mustard gas.

The entire stockpile was said to have been dismantled and shipped out under international supervision in 2014 and destroyed. But doubts began to emerge soon afterward that not all such armaments or production facilities were declared and destroyed. There also is evidence that the Islamic State group and other insurgents have acquired chemical weapons.

COMMENTS

More Related News

Netanyahu denounces Iran
Netanyahu denounces Iran 'threat' in Putin talks

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday said Iran wielded growing influence in Syria that was a "threat" to his country as he met Russian President Vladimir Putin, a figure in the Syrian crisis. "Iran is putting in great efforts to fortify its presence in Syria. This is a threat for Israel, for the Middle East and, I believe, for the whole world," Netanyahu said in remarks translated into Russian posted on the Kremlin's website.

Netanyahu to Putin: Iran
Netanyahu to Putin: Iran's growing Syria role threatens Israel

By Denis Pinchuk SOCHI, Russia (Reuters) - Iran's growing role in Syria poses a threat to Israel, the Middle East and the world, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday. "Mr. President, with joint efforts we are defeating Islamic State, and this is a very important thing.

North Korea shipments to Syria chemical arms agency intercepted: U.N. report
North Korea shipments to Syria chemical arms agency intercepted: U.N. report
  • World
  • 2017-08-21 22:27:25Z

By Michelle Nichols UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Two North Korean shipments to a Syrian government agency responsible for the country's chemical weapons program were intercepted in the past six months, according to a confidential United Nations report on North Korea sanctions violations. The report

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Comments

Top News: World

facebook
Hit "Like"
Don't miss any important news
Thanks, you don't need to show me this anymore.