Mattis: US Wants Proof Before Striking Syria for Chemical Attack

13 April, 2018, 01:37 | Author: Irene Delgado

Defense Secretary James Mattis told Congress Thursday that he couldn't talk about military plans for retaliation against Syria because an attack "is not yet in the offing".

Thursday's hearing, which included Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was slated to discuss the Pentagon's 2019 budget request, but was heavily focused on Syria.

As for whether or not the USA military is ready for action in Syria, he said: "We stand ready to provide military options if they're appropriate, as the President determines".

"As each day goes by - as you know, it is a non-persistent gas - so it becomes more and more hard to confirm it", Mattis told the lawmakers. The Center's representatives visited the place of the alleged attack and questioned local doctors, who said that they had not received individuals with symptoms of any chemical poisoning. "We're trying to stop the murder of innocent people, but on a strategic level it's how do we keep this from escalating out of control, if, if you get my drift on that".

Following an agriculture meeting at the White House later Thursday, Trump said of Syria that "we'll see what happens", but he expected decisions would be made "fairly soon". "It is to drive this to a United Nations brokered peace but at the same time keep our foot on the neck of ISIS until we suffocate it".

The United States last April launched 59 cruise missiles at a Syrian airfield in response to a similar chemical attack by the government that killed dozens of civilians.

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Mattis insisted that Trump has not yet made a decision to strike Syria, after the president earlier had tweeted that action "could be very soon or not so soon at all!"

Asked if the USA was ready for an attack, Mattis replied that "We stand ready to provide military options if they're appropriate, as the president determined". "Our strategy is to engage by, with and through allies in all things we do".

Peskov wouldn't say if Moscow could use a Russian-U.S. military hotline to avoid escalation in the event of a U.S. strike, saying only that "the hotline exists and has remained active".

Emphasizing that the use of chemical weapons was "simply inexcusable", the defense secretary also accused Moscow of complicity in Syria's alleged retention of a chemical weapons stockpile. "We're still working on this", Mattis told reporters at the Pentagon prior to meeting with defense officials from the Netherlands. It is in the United States' best interests that worldwide agreements banning the use of chemical weapons be obeyed, he said.

"Mattis will not want a strike if it doesn't combine with an overall strategy toward Syria, which this administration does not have", James Jeffrey, who was ambassador to Iraq at the time that Mattis was head of U.S. Central Command, told Politico.

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