Assad has denied being behind a chemical weapons attack on his own people earlier this month, insisting in an interview that Syria doesn’t even have chemical weapons. But Mattis says there’s no question he does.
“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 has removed them all,” Mattis said Friday in Israel, according to The Associated Press.
“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 the would be ill advised to try to use any again, we made that very clear with our strike.”
President Trump launched missile strikes against the Syrian airbase where the chemical attack is believed to have originated from, in response to the attack.
The chemical weapons attack in in northern Syria killed more than 80 civilians, including women and children.
Speaking alongside Mattis, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Israel has “100 percent information that [the] Assad regime used chemical weapons against rebels.”
Senior Israeli defense officials said Wednesday that Assad’s military is believed to have as much as three tons of chemical weapons despite a 2013 agreement ordering the country to dispose of its stockpiles.