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Syria retained chemical weapons, says Jim Mattis

TEL AVIV, APR 21 (AGENCIES)
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Published on 21 Apr. 2017 11:51 PM IST
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Jim Mattis said on Friday that Syria had dispersed its warplanes in recent days and that it retained chemical weapons, an issue he said would have to be taken up diplomatically.
The United States launched dozens of missiles earlier this month against a Syrian air base in response to a chemical attack that killed 90 people, including 30 children. It says the Syrian government launched the attack from the Shayrat air base.
The Pentagon has said that the strike had damaged or destroyed about 20 percent of the Syrian military’s operational aircraft.
During a press conference alongside his Israeli counterpart, Mattis was asked whether the Syrian military had moved warplanes to a Russian base in Latakia. “They have dispersed their aircraft, no doubt. They have dispersed their aircraft in recent days,” Mattis said.
Mattis also reiterated that the United States believed Syria had retained some chemical weapons.
“The bottom line is, I can say authoritatively they have retained some (chemical weapons). It’s a violation of the United Nations Security Council resolutions, and it’s going to have to be taken up diplomatically,” Mattis said. Israel’s military said on Wednesday it believes Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces still possess several tonnes of chemical weapons.
A senior Israeli military officer told Israeli reporters that “a few tonnes of chemical weapons” remained in the hands of Assad’s forces, a military official told Reuters.
In a 2013 agreement brokered by Russia and the United States, Syria agreed to destroy its chemical weapons. The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical weapons, a global watchdog, said sarin or a similar banned toxin was used in the April 4 strike in Syria’s Idlib province.
N. Korea words provocative, but
 not to be trusted
 U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said on Friday North Korea’s recent statements were provocative but had proven to be hollow in the past and should not be trusted.
“As far as North Korea’s latest words (are concerned), I think we’ve all come to hear their words repeatedly, their word has not proven honest,” Mattis told a news conference in Tel Aviv.
On Thursday the official newspaper of North Korea’s ruling Workers’ Party, Rodong Sinmun, threatened the United States with a “super-mighty preemptive strike” that it said would wipe out “not only the U.S. imperialists’ invasion forces in South Korea and its surrounding areas but the U.S. mainland and reduce them to ashes”.

 
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