*Mattis: Still no evidence on Syria chemical attack, but I believe there
was one*
Published time: 12 Apr, 2018 16:57 Edited time: 13 Apr, 2018 13:27
Get short URL <https://on.rt.com/934p>
[image: Mattis: Still no evidence on Syria chemical attack, but I believe
there was one]
US Secretary of Defense James Mattis waits to testify to the House Armed
Services Committee on "The FY2019 National Defense Authorization Budget
Request from the Department of Defense" on Capitol Hill in Washington,
U.S., April 12, 2018. © Joshua Roberts / Reuters


US Secretary of Defense James Mattis reiterated that the Pentagon still has
no independent evidence to confirm that there was a chemical weapons attack
in Syria last week, but said he personally believes there was one.

*“I believe there was a chemical attack. We are looking for the actual
evidence,”* the secretary told lawmakers on Thursday.
Read more
[image: A plane taking off from USS Harry S. Truman, which has been
deployed to the eastern Mediterranean ahead of a possible strike on
second thoughts? Mattis says US ‘still assessing intelligence’ on alleged
Syria attack

He added that the fact-finding mission by the Organization for the
Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) may arrive at the site of the
alleged attack in the town of Douma *“within a week,”*but stressed that the
inspectors’ mandate would be limited to establishing whether chemical
weapons were used at the location or not. He accused Russia and Syria of
obstructing the probe, despite Syria inviting the OPCW inspectors there in
the first place.

*“As each day goes by – you know it’s an impersistent gas – it becomes more
and more difficult to confirm it,”* he said.

Douma at the time of the alleged attack was the under control of the
Islamist group Army of Islam, and was only this week captured
<https://www.rt.com/news/423893-syria-douma-liberated-militants/> by the
Syrian government forces. The security there remains fragile, as evidenced
by a surprise militant attack, in which three Russian journalists were
injured <https://www.rt.com/news/423869-russian-journalists-injured-syria/> on
Wednesday. The OPCW is understandably reluctant to send its people to
unsafe areas, and never conducted an on the ground investigation at the
site of last year’s alleged chemical weapons attack in Khan Shaykhun due to
safety concerns.

Mattis said the US may use military action again, as it did after the last
year’s incident, but has to consider the wider picture in its reaction. *“We
are trying to stop the murder of innocent people. But on a strategic level
it is how do we keep this from escalating out of control, if you get my
drift on that,”* he explained.


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