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Syria still has chemical weapons: U.S. defence secy

Washington: The Syrian Government has retained an unspecified amount of chemical weapons and dispersed its aircraft after a U.S. cruise-missile attack this month, United States Defence Secretary Jim Mattis said on Friday.

Mattis spoke alongside his Israeli counterpart, Avigdor Lieberman, as part of a tour of the Middle East, and addressed reports that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad still had a significant amount of chemical weapons, the Washington Post reports.

“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. There is no longer any doubt,” Mattis told reporters.

Mattis did not provide evidence to back up his claim.

On April 7, the U.S. launched dozens of cruise missiles at Shayrat air base in Syria in response to a chemical weapon attack in Idlib province three days earlier that killed nearly 100 people, including 30 children.

U.S. officials said the Syrian aircraft that conducted the attack took off from Shayrat.

“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. (ANI)