Secretary of Defense James Mattis said Wednesday that the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria has taken President Donald Trump’s warning against launching another chemical attack seriously.
“They didn’t [launch a chemical attack]. It appears they took the warning seriously,” Mattis told reporters aboard a U.S. military aircraft destined for Belgium, the Washington Examiner first reported.
Mattis’s remarks come just days after the Trump administration announced it had warned al-Assad not to use chemical weapons, since U.S. intelligence suggested the brutal regime was preparing another chemical attack against its own people.
“The United States has identified potential preparations for another chemical weapons attack by the Assad regime that would likely result in the mass murder of civilians, including innocent children,” the White House statement said Monday.
“If, however, Mr. Assad conducts another mass murder attack using chemical weapons, he and his military will pay a heavy price,” the statement added.
Mattis also revealed Wednesday that he believes Syria has chemical weapons in many different areas around the country beyond the Shayrat Airbase, where April’s chemical attack was launched.
“I think that Assad’s chemical program goes far beyond one airfield,” Mattis said according to the Associated Press.
Syria, Russia and Iran claim that Assad has never used chemical weapons, while the U.N has blamed the Assad regime for three previous chemical attacks since the Syrian Civil War began in 2011.
The latest chemical attack in Syria occurred in April, which killed more than 80 civilians and wounded hundreds.
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