US Defense Secretary assures Syria had chemical weapons

Jerusalem, April 21 (IANS) US Secretary of Defense James Mattis on Friday said the Syrian regime had chemical weapons and recommended that it should not be used anymore.

During an official visit to Israel, Mattis said there was no doubt President Bashar al-Assad’s regime had kept chemical weapons, after a high-ranking Israeli officer informed that Damascus still had tonnes stowed away, Efe news reported.

“The bottom line is 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,” he said, speaking alongside Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman.

On April 4, an alleged chemical attack hit an opposition-held village in Syria, killing over 80 people, including children.

The US, which suspected the Syrian regime was behind the attack, retaliated by bombing an airbase held by Assad’s forces.

“(The use of chemical weapons) is a violation of the UN Security Council resolutions, and it’s going to have to be taken up diplomatically, and they’d be ill-advised to try to use any again. We’ve made that very clear with our strike,” Mattis added.

In September 2013, the UNSC unanimously adopted a resolution that the Syrian regime had until 2014 to destroy its chemical weapons arsenal.

–IANS

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