Mattis: US could strike Syria, if sarin is used again

Matt Saintsing
February 02, 2018 - 12:25 pm
rex and jim

Photo by Xinhua/Sipa USA

Categories: 

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis implied Friday that the United States may strike Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria if they use chemical weapons, adding that they have no evidence of its use recently.

“We’re on the record and you all have seen how we reacted to that, so they would be ill-advised to go back to violating the chemical convention,” Mattis told reporters at an informal, off-camera press gathering at the Pentagon.

Mattis referenced the U.S. strike against a Syrian airfield last April, after the regime used sarin gas on civilians in Khan Shaykhun.

Several reports have come out of Syria in recent weeks indicating chlorine gas attacks on civilians. Mattis said it was clear Syria has deployed chlorine in weapon-form, but that the evidence of sarin use isn’t as clear-cut.

“We’re even more concerned about the possibility of sarin use,” he said. “I don’t have the evidence. What I’m saying is groups on the ground, NGOs, fighters on the ground said that sarin has been used. So we are looking for evidence. I don’t have evidence.”

 Bashar al-Assad agreed to give up his chemical weapons stockpile as part of a 2013 deal. He had previously used sarin to attack civilians in Ghouta, killing 1,400.

Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, said last month, that reports of chlorine gas attacks in Syria raise “serious concerns.” He also blamed Russia for failing to enforce the 2013 disarmament agreement.

Though the use of weaponized chlorine violates the Chemical Weapons Convention, Assad did not have to give up chlorine stockpiles as part of the 2013 deal.

“Russia has not lived up to these commitments,” said Tillerson. “Since April 2014, there has been mounting evidence that Syria continues to illicitly possess chemical weapons and use them against its own people.”