Pentagon Does Not Have Evidence of Chlorine, Sarin Use in Syria’s Douma – Mattis
On April 12, prior to the missile attack of the U.S. and its allies against Syria, US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has told lawmakers that the US military was still “assessing the intelligence” on the alleged chemical attack in the Syrian town of Douma.
“There have been a number of these attacks. In many cases, you know we don’t have troops, we’re not engaged on the ground there, so I cannot tell you that we had evidence, even though we had a lot of media and social media indicators that either chlorine or sarin were used”, Mattis said, speaking to members of the House Armed Services Committee.
The Defense Secretary said he did believe that a chemical attack took place, but that the US was still “looking for the actual evidence”.
“We’re still assessing the intelligence, ourselves and our allies. We’re still working on this,” he reiterated.
Warning that he was concerned that a US strike might lead to an “out of control” escalation in the Syrian war, Mattis said that Washington was “committed to ending that war through the Geneva process through the UN-orchestrated effort”.
“On a strategic level, [the issue is] how do we keep this from escalating out of control, if you get my drift on that,” he said, alluding to the prospects of a confrontation between Russian and US forces deployed in the Middle Eastern country.
No Congressional Approval Needed
Mattis said at the time that he would discuss Syria options at a National Security Council meeting later on the same day, on April 12, and promised to keep lawmakers informed if the Pentagon did decide to attack. He added, however, that the White House has the authority to conduct strikes without seeking Congressional approval.
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.
Syrian opposition media reports of an alleged chemical attack by government troops prompted the US and its allies to blame Damascus. The Syrian government denied responsibility. The Russian Center for Reconciliation sent inspectors to Douma, finding no trace of chemical weapons use. Moscow has called for an independent investigation into the matter.
Syrian President Bashar Assad warned on the same day of April 12 that any Western military intervention in Syria would “contribute nothing but an increase in instability in the region, threatening international peace and security”.
Syria destroyed its chemical weapons stockpile in 2013 in a deal brokered by Russia and the United States in exchange for the latter’s agreement not to attack the Middle Eastern country. In 2014, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons confirmed that Syria’s chemical weapon arsenal had been eliminated.
Disregarding of all these, U.S. and its allies decided to bomb Syria on April 14, in contempt of many international treaties and agreements.
May 24, 2018