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SECDEF Mattis: “No Doubt” Syria Still Has Chemical Weapons

April 21, 2017

On Friday during a news conference in Tel Aviv, U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis said that there “can be no doubt” that Syria has retained chemical weapons. Secretary Mattis acknowledged that Syria possessing such weapons is in violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime would be “ill advised” to use any again.

“There can be no doubt in the international community’s mind that Syria has retained chemical weapons in violation of its agreement, and it’s statement that it had removed them all,” Mattis said, while speaking alongside Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman. “There’s no longer any doubt.”

Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis during a new conference in Tel Aviv.

Secretary Mattis refused to reveal any specifics into how much chemical weapons power Syria had at the moment as to not expose how that information was obtained.

“The amount of it I don’t want to get into right now,” the Secretary of Defense said. “We don’t reveal some of that detail because we don’t want to reveal how we’re finding out.”

He strongly reiterated that Syria had retained chemical weapons.

“But the bottom line is, I can say authoritatively they have retained some,” he said, adding that it will be have to be dealt with “diplomatically.”

“It’s a violation of the United Nations Security Council resolutions and it’s going to have to be taken up diplomatically,” Mattis said.

“They’d be ill-advised to try to use any again,” Mattis said.

“We made that very clear with our strike,” he continued. “So, I’ll just leave it at that.”

Mattis also disclosed that the Syrian Air Force dispersed its combat aircraft.

“They’ve dispersed their aircraft in recent days,” Mattis said.