You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to myPalmBeachPost.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks

X

Welcome to myPalmBeachPost.com

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on myPalmBeachPost.com.

US Defense Sec'y Mattis: Syria still has chemical weapons


Syria still possesses chemical weapons, U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said in Israel on Friday, warning against the banned munitions being used again.

At a news conference in Tel Aviv, Mattis also said that in recent days the Syrian Air Force has dispersed its combat aircraft. The implication is that Syria may be concerned about additional U.S. strikes following the cruise missile attack earlier this month in retaliation for alleged Syrian use of sarin gas.

Mattis spoke alongside Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman. "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," said Mattis. He said he didn't want to elaborate on the amounts Syria has in order to avoid revealing sources of intelligence.

"I can say authoritatively they have retained some, it's a violation of the United Nations Security Council resolutions and it's going to have to be taken up diplomatically and they would be ill advised to try to use any again, we made that very clear with our strike," he said.

Israeli defense officials said this week that Syria still has up to three tons of chemical weapons in its possession. It was the first specific intelligence assessment of President Bashar Assad's weapons capabilities since a deadly chemical attack earlier this month.

Lieberman also refused to go into detail but said "We have 100 percent information that (the) Assad regime used chemical weapons against rebels."

Assad has strongly denied he was behind the attack in the opposition-held town of Khan Sheikhoun in Syria's northern Idlib province, and has accused the opposition of trying to frame his government. Top Assad ally, Russia, has asserted a Syrian government airstrike hit a rebel chemical weapons factory, causing the disaster.

In response to the April 4 attack, the United States fired 59 missiles at a Syrian air base it said was the launching pad for the attack.

Before meeting with Mattis in Jerusalem, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told reporters that Israel is encouraged by the change of administrations in Washington.

"We sense a great change in the direction of American policy," Netanyahu said. He referred to the U.S. cruise missile strike in Syria as an important example of the new administration's "forthright deeds" against the use of chemical weapons.

A few hours later sirens wailed on the Israeli held side of the Golan Heights warning of incoming rockets from Syria, the Israeli military said. It said three "projectiles" were fired and no injuries have been reported. The Israeli military later said it retaliated and "targeted the locations where the launching originated."

Israel has been largely unaffected by the Syrian civil war raging next door, suffering mostly sporadic, spillover, incidents of fire. Israel has occasionally responded to fire with limited reprisals on Syrian positions.

It has also carried out a number of airstrikes on suspected weapon convoys it believed were destined for the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah.

Israel has warned against "game-changing" weapons reaching Hezbollah in Lebanon from Syria, which supports the militant group. Hezbollah fired more than 4,000 rockets on Israeli communities in the 2006 war, while Israel bombarded militant targets in southern Lebanon.

Last month Israel shot down an anti-aircraft missile fired at its planes as they struck a suspected Hezbollah weapons convoy.

Hezbollah and Iran, both bitter enemies of Israel, along with Russia have sent forces to support Assad.

Syria agreed to give up its chemical weapons arsenal to avert U.S. strikes following a chemical weapons attack in opposition-held suburbs of Damascus in August 2013 that killed hundreds of people and sparked worldwide outrage.

Ahead of that disarmament, Assad's government disclosed it had some 1,300 tons of chemical weapons, including sarin, VX nerve agent and mustard gas.

The entire stockpile was said to have been dismantled and shipped out under international supervision in 2014 and destroyed. But doubts began to emerge soon afterward that not all such armaments or production facilities were declared and destroyed. There also is evidence that the Islamic State group and other insurgents have acquired chemical weapons.

___

Associated Press writer Ian Deitch in Jerusalem contributed to this story.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Politics

Russian hackers who targeted Clinton appear to attack French candidate Macron
Russian hackers who targeted Clinton appear to attack French candidate Macron

  The campaign of the French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron has been targeted by what appears to be the same Russian operatives responsible for hacks of Democratic campaign officials before last year’s U.S. presidential election, a cybersecurity firm has warned in a new report.   The report has heightened concerns...
Ivanka Trump goes to Berlin as Merkel seeks bond with White House
Ivanka Trump goes to Berlin as Merkel seeks bond with White House

One is a 62-year-old former physicist who grew up in a Lutheran parish house in East Germany. The other is a businesswoman whose billionaire property-developer father brought her from Manhattan to the White House.  While Angela Merkel and Ivanka Trump don't have a lot in common, Germany's chancellor is seeking out President Donald Trump's daughter...
The lawyer who will oversee the Russia inquiry has experience investigating the White House
The lawyer who will oversee the Russia inquiry has experience investigating the White House

As a young federal prosecutor in the 1990s, Rod J. Rosenstein played a key role in the highly charged independent investigation of the President Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton, over their investments in a failed real estate company known as Whitewater.  Rosenstein now is poised to take over another sensitive investigation: the FBI counterintelligence...
State Department website touts glittering history of Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate 
State Department website touts glittering history of Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate 

A State Department website that promotes travel to the United States included an article this month about the history and lavish furnishings of President Donald Trump's privately-owned Florida resort club Mar-a-Lago, opening questions about whether the federal government is improperly promoting Trump's moneymaking enterprises.   Sen. Ron...
Charge Philippine President Duterte with mass murder, lawyer tells the Hague
Charge Philippine President Duterte with mass murder, lawyer tells the Hague

A Filipino lawyer asked the International Criminal Court in The Hague on Monday to charge President Rodrigo Duterte and 11 other Philippine officials with mass murder and crimes against humanity in the killings of thousands of people over three decades.   The lawyer, Jude Josue Sabio, said in a 77-page complaint that Duterte was the &ldquo...
More Stories